The Palermo airport case is undoubtedly a major new reference point in Italy, therefore it is useful to describe and assess the criteria that guided the project as well as the results achieved. The key issues faced by the recently completed masterplan involve airport capacity and safety, airport organisation, and assured service levels for carriers and passengers in the short, medium, and long term.
As with many Italian airports, the Palermo airport’s structural problems are due to its physical limits. The principle drawbacks are airport area size and conformation, limited possibilities for expansion (which are not without major impact on the urban conglomerate and environment), and constraints from other major infrastructures present, such as highways and railways.
Under these conditions, future planning concerning available airport areas must not only pay attention to space saving solutions, but also conduct controls using precision instruments to ensure the complex activities network best possible functionality and exploit existing infrastructures and buildings.
The first considerations for passenger terminal development pertain to the increase of short, medium and long-term passenger traffic analysis. Performed were terminal surface sizing once identified the average growth situations and typical rush hour, calculated in accordance with the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) database. Indications given by the Airport’s 2005-2020 Development Plan determined the terminal's redevelopment guidelines. The main objectives are identification of the required space necessary for each functional area in relation to the expected traffic flows, appropriate architectural solution for expansion according to predicted traffic, a construction work program and estimation of appropriate investments.
The Design Concept consists of freeing space from the current Terminal by removing its boarding, services and parking functions whilst conserving the reception. Boarding moves to three “docks” which develop in relation to the new expected airside site development. Parking and services linked to the airport are in a location adjacent to the landside area.