il Sole 24 Ore: Florence airport to build a second runway and a new terminal


Florence airport will have a new runway. Talks of an additional runway have been ongoing for the past twenty years but it is only recently that the project's deadline got tighter.

“If everything will go as planned, the new runway should be ready by 2017, in time to welcome the heads of state that will visit Florence to attend the G8 meeting scheduled for that year,” said Marco Carrai, President of Florence's airport operator ADF (Aeroporto di Firenze).

 The new runway will cost €300 million, half of which will be covered by the Italian government. 

The runway will help increase passenger traffic, which was estimated at 2.2 million in 2014, up 13.6% from the year before.

The funds will also be used to develop a new air terminal, which will be connected to Florence's public transport line. US architect Rafael Vinoly will probably be hired to design the new facility.

The “Unlock Italy” decree, aimed at revamping the economy through real estate and public infrastructure measures, has provided €50 million for the development of Florence's airport.

The funds will be called off if works will not have started as of August 2015. Before his resignation following a corruption scandal, Infrastructure minister Maurizio Lupi had signed a written agreement that granted the provision of an additional €100 million for improving Florence airport.

The remaining €150 million will be provided by Florence airport operator ADF. ADF is controlled by Argentine investment holding company Corporacion America, chaired by Argentine tycoon Eduardo Eurnekian, which also controls Pisa's airport operator SAT (Società Aeroporto Toscano Galileo Galilei). The funds will probably be financed through the emission of bonds.

According to a plan approved by the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC, Ente Nazionale per l'Aviazione Civile), the new runway is supposed to be 2,400 meters long. However, according to a regional plan that was previously approved by Tuscany's local government, the runway is supposed to be 2,000 meters long. ENAC and Tuscany's government are currently involved in a legal dispute over the matter.

In order to comply with the financing conditions outlined in the “Unlock Italy” decree, development works for transport and parking services and airport terminal improvements are expected to commence before August.

Florence airport will remain operational throughout the duration of the project.
According to a study conducted by the European division of global airports operators association Airports Council International (ACI), the new runway is expected to create 2,200 direct jobs and an additional 8,400 indirect jobs. At least 350 workers should be employed to support the construction phase of the project.

According to estimates by Tuscany's regional economic planning agency IRPET (Istituto Regionale Programmazione Economica della Toscana), the new airport terminal will generate €730 million worth of wider economic gains for the region. Passenger volume is expected to increase to 4.5 million by 2029. Overall, Florence's airport users will be able to achieve an estimated €20 million to €45 million in transport cost savings thanks to shorter journey times.

Florence's airport operator is expected to merge with Pisa's airport operator (SAT) in May 2015. The two entities will become a single organization named “Toscana Aeroporti” (Tuscany's Airports) which will be listed on the stock market. It will become Italy's third airport hub, with a combined passengers traffic volume expected to reach 11 million by 2029.

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