Italian Aviation in Mental Meltdown

Greetings from Rome Fiumicino FCO, where I was officially informed today by an Alitalia Customer Service Operator that, and I quote... "In this airport the minimum wait for baggage is 45 minutes". It appears the average is even more, like 1 hour and in my case 1 hour, 20 minutes, so beware when checking in luggage for a flight to Rome! 

Italian Aviation overall these days has gone beyond decline to Mental Meltdown! To start Volareweb collapsed recently and Alitalia has been on the brink of ceasing operations for years and the current National outfit is merely the bare bones of its former self. What's worse is that Air One the only viable alternative is part of the same operating group called CAI and the service is actually no better. To add insult to injury, the poor travelling Italians have to suffer a vastly reduced time-table created to further cut costs and for many its wholly inadequate. 

Ryanair and the "Budget Boys" are filling the void, but only by hand picking routes and not always calling to the principle airports on cost grounds, so one ends up in Bergamo instead of Milan for example.

Italy is full of tatty airports, worse for wear and operated with the inefficiency that gives one an unpleasant arrival (delayed baggage with often contempt for the traveller) in addition to a bitter farewell, a lasting effect that impacts negatively on Tourism.

This is a crying shame for a country that hosts some of the worlds most attractive cities, arguably the planets best cuisine and the globes most creative and fashionable design culture. Its even harder to get my head around this negative concept when I personally know so many intelligent, articulate and visionary people in Italy. After all, Rome once dominated all global power on our planet! 

Tracing the root cause of the Italian Aviation fiasco is not actually too difficult when one makes a little investigation, although as everything in Italy its a little complex, emotional and multi-faceted. Firstly, there is a problem with Politics hence direction, which has been the case for decades. It appears there are too many political parties and to gain power the formation of a dodgy coalition is necessary to run the country. Italian Politics has shown that when Media merges with Public life all that remains is a mess.

In conclusion there is no bright horizon for the Italian Aviation Industry in the current form and genuine outside investment is unlikely due to the over-regulation, over-taxing and over-control that any new prospective sane Company does not want to enter into.

I would like to close this article on a positive note however, by stressing the success of one significant player in the field of Tourism. Costa Crociere now successfully operates 14 mega cruise ships and despite the recession they are performing well in a challenging climate. Costa is part of the Carnival Group, however they are very much Italian, with Italian flagged ships, Italian Officers and an Italian Corporate structure for their worldwide operations. The organization, training, quality, reliability, value for money and consistency of the product is simply outstanding and as the only true Italian branded Cruise Line they are a shining example of what is possible in Italy, despite the evident complications of the country. Well done to Costa, if only they operated flights!

Enjoy the cruise of life!

Grant Holmes
Perpetual Traveller


  1. Hi Grant,

    Its a well known fact that Rome is the worst place for your luggage to be routed through. Not only to the passengers, but to the airline companies as well.

    Unfortunately this isn't limited to Rome, but now Hungary is becoming just as bad. On my recent return trip to Athens, I was pleasantly surprised to have my luggage waiting for me just after I disembarked the aircraft, but on my return, had to wait 45min for my luggage when we were A: The only airplane that landed (it seemed) and the handling area, place and baggage collection point had no more than a 100m radius.

    Also, Hungary's Ferihegy airports are the worst for service when it comes to check, customs and security scans.

    One fact is for certain, in many of these cases, both in Hungary and worldwide where service failures prevailed, it was Celebi that was in charge of check-in and ground handling and it seems the higher your go the worse the service gets in that company.



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