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Furious opposition to plans for a new airport bringing cheap flights to Tuscany

19 January 2008

Last summer, the people of Siena woke up one day and opened their copies of La Repubblica to discover that their toy airport, built in the 1930s by Mussolini for the air force and of very little use to anyone since the end of the war, was on the threshold of dramatic change. The low-costs were coming! The no-frills revolution was heading Siena’s way.”Siena’s airport takes flight” proclaimed the piece in the business section of the paper. “A radical transformation” is on the way, reported the article, “from fewer than 12,000 passengers to four million by 2020 with routes in the whole world. While the war of belltowers continues between Florence and Pisa, Siena is preparing for a great leap.

The aim of the operation, claimed the newspaper, was “the low-cost market and executive flights” because the company investing in the plan, a “dedicated transport and infrastructure equity fund” called Galaxy, “has good relations with RyanAir and easyJet, the two most important low cost companies at present, and knows that the other companies are very attracted.

But within weeks, a disparate group of people from the city and the surrounding area – a tour guide, a lawyer, owners of bed and breakfast establishments, one or two foreigners – got together and formed a committee to oppose the airport’s expansion. As the local press was uniformly backing the project they published a one-off magazine stating the case against. And when they held a demonstration in November, close to 3,000 people in this city of 60,000 turned out to join them.

source: The Independent

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