Rome’s iconic tourist attractions are well known and its status as a business destination is growing. About 600 multinational companies are based in the central region of Italy, of which Rome is the beating heart.
Connectivity is, therefore, key for Rome Fiumicino, which handled over 36 million passengers in 2013, with 200 destinations served by more than 100 airlines. The latest available figures for the year-to-date (January to April 2014) show 2.5% growth to around 10.5 million passengers.
Importantly, connectivity is increasing alongside passenger numbers. This summer’s growth in available capacity at Rome Fiumicino will be unprecedented. “To meet high demand and guarantee quality service to passengers and companies, our company has begun a series of investments aimed at considerably improving both infrastructures and passenger service,” explained Fausto Palombelli, Director of Aeroporti di Roma’s (ADR) Aviation Marketing Development. “Furthermore, it should be noted that in addition to the natural increase in connections coinciding with the summer season, 2014 saw a 10% increase in seats offered compared to the same peak period last year. For the whole summer – end-March to end-October – there will be more than 50 new flights to and from the airport, made available both by companies already operating at Fiumicino, and by new carriers who chose to invest in Leonardo da Vinci Airport. Added to the existing offer are 10 new destinations. The most important news is the considerable growth of direct connections towards Italian and European tourist and seaside destinations, and towards long range destinations.”
Strategic international hub
Several important new routes have been launched from Rome Fiumicino this year. In April, SWISS strengthened its presence in Rome with the launch of a new route to Geneva. Lorenzo Lo Presti, CEO of Aeroporti di Roma, passionately described the new service as “further confirmation of the importance of the airport as a strategic hub of international air traffic”. Switzerland represents an important market for Rome, with an average growth rate of 7% over the past four years, and a volume of about 850,000 passengers in 2013. “In such a scenario, SWISS is certainly a carrier of choice, and we are pleased that it enriches the existing offering of flights to Zurich with this new direct service to Geneva,” Lo Presti added. Thanks to this development, ADR will be able to offer up to 14 daily frequencies between Rome Fiumicino and Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Air Canada rouge introduced services between Montréal and Rome Fiumicino in May. Initially operated five days per week, the service became daily from 2 June and complements the Air Canada Rome-Toronto operation. Air Canada rouge was established by Air Canada in 2012 to offer services aimed at the leisure market. It has also further strengthened its position in Rome, by changing from operating the 767 to the A330 on the Toronto route, meaning it can now offer 50 more seats per flight.
Another notable piece of annual growth is the restart this month of Air India operations to Delhi after a 10-year hiatus. “The permanent connection to Rome, inaugurated by Air India, stresses the importance of the Italian market for the Indian carrier and once more confirms Rome’s attraction,” commented Palombelli. “This new flight consolidates and reinforces the development and expansion strategy of flights towards new markets with a high commercial potential that Aeroporti di Roma started with success, also thanks to the important infrastructure development works that are raising the quality of services offered in the main national airport. I would also like to express my best hopes that this new partnership will help to reinforce the economic bonds and tourist connections between India and Italy.”
Vueling and Ryanair are also contributing to Rome Fiumicino’s growth. While Vueling is adding 27 new destinations this August, increasing its total to 35, Ryanair opened a base at Rome Fiumicino last December and will offer 112 weekly flights this year.
Dedication to the passenger
Lo Presti speaks eloquently of ADR’s goal to “achieve excellence in the quality of all the services offered to passengers”. Its strong focus on the passenger experience has seen the introduction of two interesting new initiatives – the new Airport Helper and also free Wi-Fi.
Launched at Fiumicino in May, the Airport Helper project had already been adopted by ADR at Ciampino last year, where it recorded very positive feedback from travellers. The Airport Helpers aim to enhance the travel experience by assisting passengers with professionalism and courtesy, and they perform this task in addition to their regular jobs. There are around 530 members of the Airport Helper community at Fiumicino, representing ADR and the companies operating at the airport, such as cleaning companies, shops, restaurants, and handlers. Stefano Donnarumma, Airport Management Director of ADR, explained that the results at Ciampino last year were outstanding. “The percentage of passengers satisfied with the efficiency of the information provided, and the courtesy and professionalism of personnel, reached around 92%,” he said.
Meanwhile, unlimited Wi-Fi internet access has been available at Fiumicino since May, in another enhancement of the passenger experience. ADR has launched a new communication campaign called ‘Dedicati a te’, meaning ‘dedicated to you’, in order to create awareness among passengers of the services available to them.
It is clear that the needs of the passenger are at the heart of ADR’s strategy. Its initiatives to improve the airport experience, coupled with its route development and connectivity enhancements, further strengthen Fiumicino’s hub positioning, as well as the competitiveness of air transport in Italy.