An Airport Is Reopening in One of Italy’s Most Beloved Destinations

After being closed since 2016, the Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport is being reborn as a commercial hub for the Amalfi Coast.

View of cliffside buildings in Positano on Italy's Amalfi Coast during sunrise, with sea at right

This summer, you’ll be able to fly to the Amalfi Coast from select hubs.

Courtesy of Sebastian Leonhart/Unsplash

After being shuttered for seven years, the historic Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport is reopening its doors this summer as part of an architectural revamp and hub reboot aimed at providing better access to the Cilento area and environs.

On July 11, Salerno Costa d’Amalfi will welcome its first commercial flight starting with an arrival from Spanish low-cost carrier Volotea. Travelers to the Amalfi Coast can anticipate smoother access to the UNESCO-designated region with additional international airlines and flights expected to join the growing roster of carriers that will serve the hub.

“Symbolically, [the airport reopening] shows how much southern Italy has changed and is on the [rise],” says Danielle Oteri, founder of Feast Travel, a travel advisor with deep knowledge of the Cilento area. Oteri notes that tourists still have reluctance to visit areas of southern Italy beyond the Amalfi Coast like the Parco Nazionale di Cilento and other, lesser-known beach destinations. “The airport is a symbol that that era is long gone,” says Oteri.

Located 12 miles from Salerno, 28 miles from Amalfi, and 45 miles from Napoli, the Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport is more than an alternative to Napoli-Capodichino Airport, southern Italy’s gateway hub (which sees as many as 12 million passengers annually). It’s a better choice for those wanting to explore the Campania region and southern Italy. Travelers can expect fewer crowds during its opening year before operations fully ramp up. Additionally, services will be newer, cleaner, and more efficient.

Aerial rendering of the forthcoming blue and white Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport

A rendering of the forthcoming Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport

Courtesy of Atelier Alfonso Femia

The Salerno airport is a short drive from picturesque coastal destinations like Cetara, Ravello, Amalfi, and Positano along the famed Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast), which consistently ranks as one of the top destinations in Italy.

The reopening of Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport comes at a time when the increasing popularity of the Amalfi Coast has brought more visitors, more luxury hotels, and higher prices. Salerno is part of the Cilento region, a vast territory in southern Italy that spans from the coast to the Cilento mountains (including Cervati, Monte Stella, and Gelbison) with hamlets, archaeological sites, and scores of regional food products, such as mozzarella di bufala, white figs, and olive oil with a DOP (denominazione di origine protetta, protected designation of origin certification) or IGP (indicazione geografica protetta, protected geographical indication) designation. In one afternoon you can taste the best mozzarella in the world in Battipaglia, explore ancient temples in Paestum, and then enjoy cocktails on the beach at Vietri sul Mare.

“Salerno is a great starting point for exploring Italy culturally and historically,” says archaeologist Darius Arya. “From here, you have the opportunity to experience beautiful landscape and cultural heritage that goes back to Magna Graecia, from the archaeological parks of Paestum and Velia to Cilento e Vallo di Diano National Park, the second largest in the country, which stretches from the coast to the mountain foothills. Greek colonies, great food, a gorgeous coastline that together are easy and incredible to explore.”

Oteri adds, “This is a great investment for the local economy.”

Originally opened in 1926 as a military airport, Salerno Costa d’Amalfi has been a flying school, a carabinieri firefighter and parachuter training center, a private airport, and even had a brief stint as a small commercial flight hub before it permanently closed its doors in 2016. One of the hangars at the airport was designed by famed Italian architect PierLuigi Nervi, a pioneer of early 20th-century rationalist style.

A rendering of the Salerno Costa d’Amalfi viewed from sidewalk level with people entering the building

The new Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport is being built with sustainability front of mind.

Courtesy of Atelier Alfonso Femia

The 2024 reboot is part of a larger architectural and infrastructure project led by Dutch engineering firm Deerns and collaborating with the ateliers of Alfonso Femia, Od’a Officina d’Architettura, Techproject, and Sun Flower Engineering.

Designed with state-of-the-art systems to reduce CO₂ emissions by approximately 390 tons per year, the 170,000-square-foot terminal follows an open piazza plan in a two-level modular frame full of light, greenery, and polychromatic colors, designed to play into the natural landscape. The roof is made of photovoltaic panels, a series of peaked A-frames reminiscent of Italy’s cabine (beach cabins) that dot the coastline.

“The terminal should be an integral part of the passengers’ journey and exploration of the region, the beginning and end of their experience,” explained Alfonso Femia at a recent press conference.

Already a 6,500-foot runway is completed, with work on a 7,200-foot extension slated for 2025. Scheduled for 2026 and 2027 are a new passenger terminal, general aviation terminal, and operational buildings, with additional airport access such as a metro station and more motorway connections planned for the future. The airport is already reachable by strade statali (state roads) and smaller conduits.

The Salerno airport is designed to accommodate up to 3.3 million passengers in the upcoming three years, offering much needed relief to the traffic at Naples’s airport, with the potential of increasing to 5.5 million. Along with Volotea, EasyJet and RyanAir are currently in talks to add the airport to their lineup of Italy destinations.

Erica Firpo is a journalist with a passion for art, culture, travel, and lifestyle. She has written and edited more than 20 books, and her travel writing has appeared in Yahoo Travel, Discovery Magazine, BBC Travel, the New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Fathom, Forbes Travel, and Huffington Post.
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