ROME, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- Citing the ecological fragility of the area, Italy's Ministry for Environment, land and Sea rejected a plan that would have dramatically increased the size of Rome's main airport.
Leonardo Da Vinci Airport, in the city of Fiumicino, between the Italian capital and the Mediterranean coast, is the tenth largest airport in Europe in terms of traffic, with nearly 43 million passengers passing through its terminals last year. The airport is the busiest in Italy, ahead of Milan Malpensa Airport, which served nearly 25 million passengers last year.
But the airport operates near capacity, and officials first sought to double the size of the airport to include new terminals, runways, and landing slots in 2017.
The Ministry rejected the proposal this week, saying the plan was "incompatible with the natural fragility of the landscape." Minister of Environment Sergio Costa used social media to say the decision proved the government made environmental issues a top priority.
The holding company Aeroporti di Roma is controlled by highway and infrastructure giant Atlantia, which says it has worked hard to ensure the environmental sustainability of the airport, noting that a recent expansion was carried out without the development of new territory. The Italian media has reported that Aeroporti di Roma will likely revamp the plan and resubmit it.
The Leonardo Da Vinci Airport was built to help absorb the arrival of new passengers for the 1960 Olympics, which were held in Rome. It quickly replaced Rome Ciampino Airport as the city's main air hub, though Ciampino is still the arrival point for 5.8 million passengers last year.