The international airport Falcone and Borsellino di Palermo-Punta Raisi (IATA Code: PMO, ICAO: LICJ) is an Italian airport situated 35 km west of the city of Palermo, along the road 113 north of Sicula, now accompanied by the A29 motorway towards Trapani, in the territory of the municipality of Cinisi in the Punta Raisi area.
It is the third largest passenger airport in southern Italy and ranked eighth among the busiest airports in Italy in 2019. The structure is named after the memory of John Falcone and Paul Borsellino.
The history of the airport dates back to 1953, when the Autonomous Consortium for Palermo Airport was founded to replace the then city airport, Boccadifalco airport, which was the third national airport at the time and was no longer suited to traffic requirements, with increasing demands for national and international flights.
The sites identified during the preliminary studies, for the construction of the new airport, were two:
The Coast Zone of the Conca d’oro between the municipalities of Bagheria and Ficarazzi, about 15 km from Palermo. The area is not subject to gusts of wind but is adjacent to very inhabited areas with limitations in the approach of aircraft due to the presence of Monte Pilgrino in the west, Cape Saffron in the east, and the Palermo Mountains in the south.
The area of the municipality of Cinisi, called Punta Raisi, lies between the coast and Montagna Longa; although not very populated and free from natural obstacles along the path of descent, it was known to be severely subject to winds of fall, especially in the case of syrup.
Without passing through an open competition to define the construction site of the airport and in opposition to all the technicians who had given a negative opinion, the consortium decided to build the airport in Punta Raisi.
Mafia boss Gaetano Badalamento
Palermo airport was built near the territory of the mafia boss Gaetano Badalamento. It would also have been established that the political and mafia interests and the power of the Chinese fishing industry were more than decisive in the choice of the construction site for the new airport.
In 1956, the executive project was presented to the region of Sicily and then to the Ministry of Transport. It provided for two parallel lanes, one taxiway and one flight path, with orientation 07/25.
The first inaugural flight took place on January 2, 1960, from Rome Ciampino, and was piloted by the then 29 – year – old gorizia pilot Ferdinand Fioretto.
Since the airport’s early activities, the problems caused by the wind of the site had arisen, and for this reason, an additional crossborder runway was designed compared to the other two, with an orientation of 02/20, for which the journalist Peppino Impastate, who was killed by the coscow of the Chinese boss, also had to be severely questioned.
During the 1990 World Cup, a number of major and impressive works were started in the 1980s. A new, more modern, bigger airport was planned. In order to connect the new terminal more quickly to the inhabited center, there was a railway connection linking the airport to the railway line for Trapani. The work on the new terminal began very late, in 1987, and the World Cup was not even able to meet its start date, and the new terminal was inaugurated in the summer of 1995. \
However, during the World Cup, the airport was duly adapted to the event with green accommodation, targeted reception areas and a special vip hall, designed by designer Francesco Buffa. Work on the rail link started only ten years later and was completed in 2001.
2000s and the new face
In 2001, a branch of the Palermo Trapani railway was opened, ending at level -1 of the airport (Punta Raisi station); the line is served by the convoys of theMetropolitan Railway Service of Palermo, which serves the city center with various intermediate stops.
The old terminal was used for a short period between 2004 and 2006 as an area arriving at the same time as some areas of the airport were renovated, and from 2007 part of the old terminal was modified to accommodate the car rental service.
In 2009, CIPE and the region of Sicily allocated around EUR 200 million for the total renovation of the airport and the creation of new support facilities. Palermo airport has become an important base for Alitalia, which already operated with flights to Naples and Rome from Palermo Airport since it opened in 1960. Boccadifalco.