Rome airport: a city that uses two names for one airport.
In Europe, the hub-and-spoke mode of operation has an even longer history than in the US, having grown out of the past regulatory framework and of the prevailing geographic and political conditions, rather than as an autonomous market process. Each nation has had its own flag carrier, with a privileged position in and around its domestic market and frequently a large government ownership share. More often than not, flag carriers have been benefiting from considerable amounts of subsidies or direct financial support from the state. The airport of Rome capacity constraints and the slot allocation regimes with the practices currently in effect in Europe, constitute major barriers to entry and hence to competition and economic efficiency. However,the Eternal City in 1961 decided to add to the name Fiumicino (that means " small river channel - because the airport is located at the end of the Tiber River ) the name of Leonardo da Vinci, in memory of the most brilliant genious mind that Italy ever had. At Leonardo da Vinci, the airport operator, Aeroporti di Roma, is spending a lot of money in expanding and upgrading terminal facilities to meet the needs of growing traffic numbers and shaking off the airport's rather modest reputation.
There are now three terminals one of which, Terminal C, is linked to a satellite. The handsome new Terminal A is for domestic flights and replaces spartan facilities. Terminal B, a light and airy place, has a dual role handling international and a number of domestic services. Terminal C is located near the major international flights and is connected to satellite C, a mini-terminal in its own right with a full range of shopping, catering and other services. International passengers will find the satellite a big improvement on the old days when the only way to reach the aircraft steps on many flights meant a bus ride.
Despite all the money spent on the satellite, however, the risk has not entirely been removed. Three of the 14 gates are still the prelude to a bus journey to a parked aircraft. How did that happen? The satellite is connected to Terminal C by the "Skybridge" automated rail shuttle, the first of its kind in Italy, and there are plans to extend the service to the rest of the airport. That will be welcome news for those who have tramped the endless walkways - the moving walkways are only a partial help - which link the terminals. New shopping and catering areas have been introduced in Terminal B as the plans to sharpen up the image and quality of Rome's major airport gathers pace.
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