Grimaldi Lines has started its new thrice weekly service between Salerno and Augusta- Sailing overnight the route is Salerno to Augusta Weds/Fri/Sun at 19,30 and from Augusta to Salerno Tues/Thurs/Sat/ at 2300. At least to start with dinner and breakfast are included in the promotional price. It should be a competitive service, with TTT running Catania/Naples, and SNAV Palermo/Naples, and Messina/Salerno, a new operator is to be welcomed.
Yesterday in Rome, the signing of the famous ‘convention of services’ took place at the Ministry of Economics. Long awaited, the signing ceremony began the official countdown to the opening of the airport at Comiso – which should now take place within 150 days.
There are still various technical checks, and public safety certificates to be issued, but the nub of the matter is that the airtraffic control and airside services are guaranteed for the next two years. It will now be up to the management company to make a go of the airport.
Ryanair has signed a letter of intent wanting to carry 2 million passengers to Comiso by 2015. Reading the Ryanair expansion plans yesterday it can only bring much needed investment into the area.
The airport at Catania is closed airside for a month, while the runway is lengthened, strengthened and tarmacced. Until 5 December the aircraft companies will use the Nato base at Sigonella for take off and landing, while using the passenger side facilities at Catania.
Yesterday, the first day of disruption, went by without any major problems. Check in must be completed 3 hours before the flights, giving ample time for passengers and their checked baggage to be moved out to Sigonella on specially chartered coaches. The same for aircraft landing. Whether the airport will reopen fully on 5 December is still to be seen, but at the moment things are going remarkably smoothly.
The comune of Modica is sliding towards being declared bankrupt with debts of between 60 and 70 million euros. It seems that there is little hope of refinancing, although the Mayor is trying to establish a five year structural plan which should allow some refinancing. The other option will be that the state will send in a technical commissioner.
Last night, a marathon sitting of the comune got to the nub of the problem. The mayor outlined the size of the debt – 58 million euros, and is working on cuts of 48%.
The new face of Sicily is the exmayor of Gela, who promises to promote tourism, clamp down on the Mafia and modernise Sicily. The first openly gay mayor Crocetta has been living under the threat (and 3 attempts) of a Mafia contract for the last 15 years. If anything, this has made him only more defiant and determined to thwart oragnised crime. In Gela where he opened his battle against the pizzo (payments by shopkeepers to the Mafia) he managed to change the attitude of the city towards the Mafia.
The results give the new Sicilian parliament a change of face. The centre left (PD) have 30 seats, and Crocetta (PD/UDC) is the new governor. The centre right have 20 deputies, while the autonomous Sicily parties have 15 seats and Beppe Grillo’s 5 Star Movement have the remaining 15 seats.
M5S have announced that they will not form a coalition, but remain independent, which means that Crocetta must ally the left with the autonomous parties to have a majority. In practise this means that the regional parliament will be virtually the same as it was before the elections, with the added influence of some of the convicted Cuffaro’s right hand men back in government.
Ex governor Lombardo is no more, but his 23 year old son has been elected.