The Amalfi Coast Will Get an Airport This Summer, But Full Takeoff is Still a Few Years Away

| Fri, 02/23/2024 - 15:54
Lemon tree in Positano
Lemon tree in Positano / Photo: Jure Svetelj via Shutterstock

Visiting one of the most popular stretches of southern Italy will soon be easier for air travelers with the revival of the Salerno-Costa d’Amalfi airport, located approximately 45 km (28 miles) southeast of Amalfi and 21 km (13 miles) from Salerno. 

But this is one takeoff that’s going to be slow and steady. While the news of the airport’s summer 2024 reopening has made a splash, this is a clear “soft” launch. Spanish airline Volotea is slated to start operating connections from Nantes, France and Cagliari, Sardinia by early July, but the next links to Verona and Catania won’t be active until September. The airport also released a statement back in late January that they wouldn’t be hiring new personnel anytime soon; full operations aren’t expected until 2026 or 2027.

Still, over the long haul, with its strategic position in the municipality of Pontecagnano Faiano, the Salerno-Costa d’Amalfi airport looks poised to boost industries up and down la divina costiera (divine coast) and to significantly reduce the pressure on Naples’ Capodichino International Airport, which saw a record 12.4 million passengers pass through in 2023.  

Why it’s going to be a game-changer

Rendering of fully upgraded Salerno-Costa d’Amalfi airport

For one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997), the Amalfi Coast, which stretches from Positano to Vietri sul Mare, has long been notoriously difficult to reach. Visitors heading to its sparkly coastline and colorful hillside villages typically first arrive in Naples and board a series of buses, trains and ferries to reach the strip.

The strip’s dedicated airport isn’t exactly new, but resurrected. Salerno-Costa d’Amalfi airport was originally built in 1926 and served as a military airfield, but also underwent stints as a commercial flying school, firefighting center and private airport. After undergoing some renovations and expansions, it opened up to small numbers of civic flights in 2007 but shuttered completely in 2016.

The revived project is going to be for the long haul. Development work is set to continue through at least 2043, by which time the airport hopes to accommodate up to six million passengers per year. Initial renovations have been underway since July 2020 and have included multiple extensions of the runway, in-progress construction of a new passenger terminal, aircraft parking, a fuel depot and operational buildings. 

The master development plan released by the managing authority GESAC claims that the airport will “reflect the highest environmental standards both for energy efficiency and for the use of natural and sustainable materials;” to that end, the new terminal will have a photovoltaic system that will help with reducing CO2 emissions. But larger concerns about the effects increased numbers of visitors will have on the Campania region’s already overburdened infrastructure and its delicate natural environment have been raised. Regional authorities have begun to address some of the concerns by announcing that they will fund improvements to the motorway connection to the airport and the link to the Salerno metro line.