10 Feb 2024 By cnn
Editor's Note: Sign up for Unlocking the World, CNN Travel's weekly newsletter. Get the latest news in aviation, food and drink, where to stay and other travel developments.
There's a rule of thumb when visiting Italy: The harder it is to get to a destination, the more beauty lies in store for you.
That rule is about to get a little less hard and fast as the Amalfi Coast gets its "own" airport.
Salerno Costa d'Amalfi Airport will "open" in July, 45 kilometers (28 miles) southeast of the city of Amalfi and 21 kilometers (13 miles) from the city of Salerno, the gateway to the famous coast.
Technically it's a reopening rather than a new airport built from scratch. First constructed in 1926, over the past 98 years, it has been used on and off as a military airport, flying school, firefighting hub and private airport.
In 2007, it was developed to allow commercial flights, too. The runway was lengthened, and two gates and four check-in desks were built. Airlines using it included Air Dolomiti and VolaSalerno, a short-lived local startup with just one plane that folded in 2008. The airport then closed entirely in 2016.
July 11 will see the start of its new life with the arrival of commercial flights by Volotea, a Spanish airline with a major presence in Italy.
Permission to operate commercial flights was granted in January, and for its forthcoming opening, the runway has been extended to 2,000 meters (6,562 feet). Aircraft stands and facilities have been added.
Operations are starting slowly as the airport is still under development and not scheduled to be finished until 2026.
This year, Volotea will serve four destinations, starting with Nantes in France and Cagliari in Sardinia in July, and Verona and Catania added in September. Other "important airlines" are in talks to serve the airport as well, according to a spokesperson for GESAC, which manages the airport.
As the flights take off, the expansion works will continue.
A new passenger terminal is due to be built by 2026-2027. The 16,000 square meter (172,222 square feet) terminal has been designed by Dutch company Deerns, which won the tender for the expansion project because of their plans "hinging on respect for the environment and integration of the local area," GESAC said in a statement.
The company has previously worked on expansions at Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam Schiphol and Kuwait City airports.
The futuristic-looking terminal will be constructed using natural and sustainable materials while the roof will house photovoltaic panels to generate energy, which will reduce CO2 emissions.
That second phase of development will also see the runway extended once more to 2,200 meters (7,218 feet).
In the meantime, a new general aviation terminal (essentially for private planes) will be built by next year. Commercial operators will also use it until their new passenger terminal is completed.
The airport will be under development until 2043, by which time it aims to process six million passengers per year. It will help relieve pressure on Naples' Capodichino International Airport, which saw a record 12.4 million passengers in 2023.
Carlos Muñoz, Volotea's founder and president, called the opening of the airport "an important moment for the region" in a statement shared with CNN. And GESAC's Roberto Barbieri called the news "an incredible flywheel for the development of tourism in our region."
And while the Amalfi Coast has struggled with overtourism with authorities introducing major restrictions on cars to ease congestion, locals seem pleased.
Fausto Salsano, owner of Vietri Centro B&B in Vietri sul Mare, the first village on the famous coastline, told CNN: "I'm thrilled that we will have an Amalfi Coast airport.
"For those of us in the tourism business, it'll be a jumping-off point to assert ourselves even more in our work."
He predicted an 'important growth rate in all sectors."
Are you looking for a holiday? Get special deals.