Italy is one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations with visitors from far and wide drawn in by the prospect of visiting its historic cities and enjoying its world famous cuisine. While Rome is the capital and best known destination, smaller cities such as Florence, Venice and Pisa are also hugely popular. Below we’re going to look at the busiest airports in Italy, both before the pandemic and since.
The data comes from wikipedia’s rundown of Italy’s busiest airports and the busiest in Europe (2021 figures). In all cases, figures are rounded up or down to the nearest 100,000 and include both domestic and international travellers.
The Busiest Airports in Italy by Passenger Numbers
1. Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport
The most popular airport in Italy, at least in terms of passenger numbers, is Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino. With over 40 million passengers per year prior to Covid, it typically ranked not only as Italy’s busiest by a considerable margin, but also as one of the busiest in Europe with Rome the 5th most popular European city destination with travellers.
Having recently celebrated its 60th birthday, Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino was effectively built to replace the smaller Ciampino Airport, although the latter does remain operational and serves some budget airlines. Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport benefits from much more space though and is the main option for long-haul flights into the Italian capital.
It was the main hub for Italian flag-carrier Alitalia, although the airline went bankrupt in 2021 and ceased operations. Partly because of that, air traffic into Rome hasn’t picked up as quickly as some other major European destinations with just 11.7 million passengers in 2021 a massive fall on the levels reached throughout the 2010’s.
Number of Passengers in 2019: 43.5 million
2. Milan Malpensa Airport
Milan Malpensa is the next best airport to fly into in Italy if you’re coming from much further afield. It has direct connections far and wide to major global cities such as Sao Paulo, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Bangkok.
In many respects it ultimately benefited from Alitalia’s decision to switch its main hub from Malpensa to Rome in 2008 with the airport launching more global routes, whilst also drawing in European budget airline easyJet who made it their largest base outside of the UK.
Malpensa consists of two terminals, connected by airport shuttle buses and trains with passengers treated to spectacular views of the Alps on takeoff and landing. As well as serving the city of Milan, it’s also an important regional airport for anyone planning trips into the nearby mountains and lakes.
Number of Passengers in 2019: 28.8 million
3. Milan Bergamo Airport
The second biggest airport serving Milan is located close to the city of Bergamo. Officially known as Orio al Serio International Airport it has perhaps surprisingly grown into Italy’s third busiest airport and its development will be aided further when its own railway station opens in 2024.
Its busiest route during the 2010’s was the London Stansted connection but it also has an abundance of domestic flights with the most popular being links to the islands of Sardinia and Sicily. As a result, it hasn’t experienced such a severe decline in traffic over the past two years as some of the other major international airports in Italy, although it remained the 3rd busiest in 2021 behind Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa.
Number of Passengers in 2019: 13.9 million
4. Venice Marco Polo Airport
One airport and city that did experience a huge decline in visitors during the pandemic was Venice which finally got some respite from the millions of tourists who flock to the Northern Italian city each year.
Venice Marco Polo was only the 9th busiest Italian airport in 2021 but during normal times, it’s invariably in the top five with over 10 million passengers per year. The old plazas of Venice and world famous Venetian canals are among the most defining images of travel in Italy but the airport is located on the mainland and feels a world away from the historic centre.
It’s another of the easiest airports in Italy to get to from the UK, with many Ryanair and easyJet budget flights from cities such as London, Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh. There are also seasonal services to North American cities like Montreal, Toronto, New York and Philadelphia.
Number of Passengers in 2019: 11.6 million
5. Naples Airport
Not far behind at number five is Naples, the main gateway into the southernmost parts of Italy. The city itself is not much of a tourist destination, but it is close to some of the most beautiful parts of the country, with many visitors heading to nearby Sorrento or visiting the ancient ruins of Pompeii.
With just one terminal and one runway, Naples Airport does get busy during the summer months when traffic peaks but it benefits from its ability to cater to flights throughout the night, which isn’t the case at every airport. Passenger numbers at Naples had really started to spike in the 2010’s, almost doubling between 2014 and 2019 before the pandemic changed everything in 2020.
Number of Passengers in 2019: 10.9 million
The busiest airports in Italy in 2019 were rounded off by Catania (10.2 million), Bologna (9.4 million), Palermo (7.0 million), Milan Linate (6.6 million) and Rome Ciampino (5.9 million).
Italy’s Busiest Airports – Top 10 ranked by 2021 Passenger Numbers
|1. Rome Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino
|2. Milan Malpensa
|3. Milan Bergamo
|7. Milan Linate
|9. Venice Marco Polo
Despite a massive drop on the 43.5 million passengers in 2019, Rome Rome Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino still topped the list of busiest airports in Italy in 2021 with the two main Milan airports again in 2nd and 3rd.
The airports that saw lower drops were largely located on the islands where many Italians continued to be reliant on domestic flights to get to/from the mainland during 2020 and 2021. Catania in Sicily rose to number 4 in 2021 while Palermo and Cagliari were other island airports to feature in the top 10 and both cities also feature in our rundown of the cheapest places to live in Italy.
Italy Airports Map
This post on the busiest airports in Italy was published in June 2022.