Italy’s Amalfi Coast is getting a new airport this summer

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The Amalfi Coast will open a new airport in July, just in time for the summer crush. The new facility south of Salerno, Italy, will allow travelers to bypass Naples, the primary access point for the area, and fly directly to the popular tourist destination in the Campania region.

“The opening of the Salerno-Amalfi Coast airport has been awaited for many years, and it will be an opportunity for the development of lesser-known areas,” Marco Ferrara, chief executive of Salerno Incoming Tour and Stay, an Italian tour operator, said by email. “Tourism on the Amalfi Coast has always been Napolicentric — focused on the side closest to Naples — so this could move the center of gravity further south.”

The Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport will open in phases. The Spanish budget airline Volotea will start offering limited service from Nantes, France, on July 11 and from Cagliari, Sardinia, on July 13. The carrier will add flights from Catania in Sicily and Verona on Sept. 2. According to the airline’s website, one-way fares start at $34, depending on the destination. EasyJet, the British budget carrier, will also launch new routes to Salerno in July: from Milan Malpensa on July 11; Berlin, Geneva and Basel, Switzerland, on July 12; and London Gatwick on July 13. The inaugural flight from Milan starts at $52 one way.

“I’m an EasyJet frequent flier,” said Nigel Carley, a Cilento Coast resident who runs the Pinelli Group, a luxury property development company, “and they’re already telling me it’s coming.”

The Gestione Servizi Aeroporti Campani (GESAC), which manages the Naples and Salerno airports, said it will announce more airlines in the near future. Carley expects Ryanair will add the Amalfi Coast to its route map. The ultra-low-cost carrier did not respond to a request for comment.

According to GESAC, the Salerno airport will serve about 200,000 passengers in the first six months of opening, a period that overlaps with the area’s peak summer season. The company said the number of travelers could balloon to 4 million or 5 million a year, based on demand. The Naples International Airport, which is about 40 miles north of the town of Amalfi, handled 12.4 million passengers in 2023, according to airport officials. The Salerno airport is slightly closer to Amalfi, at about 28 miles; its eponymous town is only about 13 miles away.

“The project [will] split the flight traffic between Naples and Salerno,” Ferrara said, adding that the flights will probably be short- or medium-haul instead of transatlantic.

The Salerno airport has a long and intriguing résumé. It was founded by the country’s military air force in 1926 and was active during World War II. It was used as a training center for the Carabinieri police force, firefighters and flight students. It was also a landing pad for private aircraft and, from 2008, for commercial flights, too. The airport stopped commercial aviation activities in 2016.

GESAC expects the expanded airport to be ready by 2026 or 2027. On its to-do list: extending the runway to 7,218 feet and constructing a 172,223-square-foot passenger terminal that is scheduled to open in 2026. The Dutch design firm Deerns, which has helped plan Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and airports in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait City, will oversee the terminal project.

Initially, the airport will offer passengers basic services and amenities, such as a snack area stocked with Campania specialties, a newsstand, a tobacconist and a rental car desk. The new terminal will provide a wider variety of shops and dining options in the “artisanal and gastronomic tradition of the Amalfi Coast and the Campania region,” said a GESAC spokeswoman.

The Salerno airport will streamline the journey to the Amalfi Coast. Travelers typically fly to Naples and hire or rent a car. The drive can take anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes, depending on traffic and the destination. Visitors can also catch a bus, train or ferry. For some towns, a combination of travel modes is required.

“It’s going to take a lot of traffic away from Naples,” Carley said, “so it will have a positive effect on the environment, not a negative one.”

Italy is grappling with overtourism, which is causing some towns and regions to implement fees and restrictions to curb the crowds. Starting in April, Venice will require daily visitors to pay a roughly $5.50 entrance fee during busy times and days. In 2019, Amalfi Coast officials introduced an alternating license plate system for nonresidents on the 22-mile stretch of road between Positano and Vietri sul Mare. During peak periods, rental cars with odd-numbered plates can’t drive on odd-numbered dates. The same rule applies for even numbers.

To alleviate the stress on the scenic roads, Campania region officials will extend the metro rail from the town of Salerno to the airport. Carley said a new toll road that connects the E45 highway to the southern region will also help reduce congestion by siphoning traffic away from residential thoroughfares. The Mediterranean coastline’s UNESCO World Heritage status and the National Park of Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni also act as foils to overdevelopment.

“The Amalfi desperately needs this airport to improve tourism,” Carley said, “but we are putting sustainability at the forefront.”

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