Air Transport World

'More than just an Alitalia Hub': Rome's Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport will continue to thrive regardless of the fate of Italy's national airline, its leaders say.(Airports)

For a person whose largest customer is on the financial ropes, Riccardo Raimondi seems remarkably composed. The Executive VP-Aeronautical Activities of Aeroporti di Roma, which operates Rome's two commercial airports, Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci and much smaller Ciampino Giovan Battista Pastine, is confident that the continued health of the properties does not rest on the survival of Alitalia. Fiumicino "is more than just an Alitalia hub," he declares.

That view helps to explain why--unlike SEA, which runs Milan's two main airports, Linate and Malpensa--ADR will not be participating in the pending financial restructuring of the national carrier. "We have a long history together, but I do not believe in the business model to interweave the two," says FrancescoDi Giovanni, managing director of ADR. On a more practical note, he also observes that were ADR to invest in Alitalia, the airline most likely would come to expect special treatment from its new shareholder. "This would not necessarily benefit the income position of ADR," he remarks.

"Neither would it be fair toward the other airlines that operate from our airports. They expect impartiality."

Besides, SEA arguably had little choice in the matter, since it wants to preserve Alitalia's Malpensa hub. But Rome and Milan are very different cities, argues Raimondi, and Fiumicino plays a different role in the nation's air transport system. "Fiumicino is the natural hub for domestic air travel in Italy because we are right in the center of the country. And we are the natural hub for the south of Europe to Middle Eastern and North African countries," he states. Fiumicino also supports more O&D traffic owing to the enormous tourism to Rome and the Holy See.

The airport's passenger throughput totaled 26.3 million in 2003, of which 21.4% was international non-European Union (which last year still counted only 15 member states instead of the current 25). …

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