Monday, July 30, 2012

STARVING FOR THE AIRPORT

Location of Comiso Airport


Catania's Fontanarossa Airport has, as I've written previously, been enormously successful since its 2007 relocation and refurbishment - so successful, in fact, that it has to close "for a month" in November for runway maintenance.  The trouble is, no one really believes that it will only be for a month and, although Sigonella [a NATO and Italian Air Force base near Catania], Palermo and even Reggio Calabria have been suggested as temporary alternatives, what this side of Sicily needs is for the long-promised Comiso  Airport to open in Ragusa Province.

Comiso is a former military airport where conversion work to commercial status was completed in 2008.  So why, you may ask, has it not opened yet?  Ah,well, you see, this is Sicily and you have to understand that the signing of contracts and then their legal processing can take a very long time.  Ask anyone here when the airport will open and you will probably be met with a resigned smile.

One person who is fed up with all this is Mpa [Movimento per le Autonomie] Councillor Gianni Cirnigliaro from Vittoria.  Mr Cirnigliaro has been on hunger strike in front of the airport entrance since last Monday, drinking only water and sugarless coffee and sleeping in a camper van.  He is being supported by his colleague Angelo Giacchi, who is not on hunger strike but is taking as little food as possible.  Yesterday Mr Cirnigliaro's blood pressure dropped dramatically and he was taken to hospital but he has vowed not to give up his protest.

Some have accused Mr Cirnigliaro of staging the protest to raise his political profile but he says that he is taking action because he really believes that the opening of Comiso Airport would help enormously in the economic redevelopment of the area.  Asked by a Corriere di Ragusa reporter if he intended to die for this cause, he replied that he had every intention of staying alive because he wants to fly from the airport.  Sicily Scene wishes him well.

Update: About five minutes ago, Il Giornale di Ragusa reported that Mr Cirnigliaro has suspended his hunger strike after Giovanna Cagliostro, the Prefect of Ragusa, expressed concerns about his health but also told him that she had received assurances from Ministry of Transport Officials that another meeting between the interested parties will take place within the week to resolve the remaining sticking points.  I do not want to be a cynic but I anticipate more resigned smiles tomorrow.....

2 comments:

Winchester whisperer said...

What a nuisance, especially in August!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, WW. Fontanarossa isn't closing till November but when it does, it will be a real nuisance!

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