Brexit and the fear of ISIS are moving the axis of tourism in Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. Ryanair, the airline with the highest number of passengers in Italy, is taking advantage of a tax rebate and new norms for local airports to expand its operations in Italy, moving here 10 new aircrafts and hiring 200 people.
The new routes include a Rome-Lourdes flight which raised quite a few eyebrows in the country’s capital. According to some the condition of Rome and Italy is so bad that we can only resort to miracles to set it right! Anyway, regardless of these skeptical remarks, it is interesting to note that lower taxes and a clearer legal context help attract investment.
Since the Uk, Turkey and North-Africa are in marked decline, Ryanair’s CEO and founder O’Leary said the resources would have gone to Spain, Greece or Poland if the Rome government hadn’t swiftly acted to meet the low cost airline’s demands.
The Lourdes-bound flight, on Thursdays and Sundays from March 26, will operate from Ryanair’s largest hub in Rome, Ciampino. The Pastine airport, however, hasn’t much spare capacity, so most of the new business will be in the Rome intercontinental airport of Fiumicino, where Ryanair works from the no-frill Terminal 2 – mostly national flights.
A Rome-Lourdes scheduled flight is already operated by the small airline Alba Star, also twice a week, but from Fiumicino.
Most central and southern Italian pilgrims who fly to Lourdes use charter flights and holiday packages of the Vatican pilgrimage office, Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi. It is not clear yet whether Ryanair will be a competitor or will increase the offer of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi as train trips are about to be eventually shelved.
LOW COST AIRLINES IN ROME
The best low-cost alternative to Ryanair in Rome is Vueling, which uses Fiumicino as its Roman base. Easyjet, after moving its flights from the Ciampino airport to Fiumicino, has recently cut the number of destinations to/from Rome to increase its Italian business at the Milan Malpensa airport.
Another new route announced as a result of the new investment is the Rome-Nuremberg (Germany) flight from October 30, daily from Ciampino.