With three international airports, Sardinia enjoys excellent connections with mainland Italy and across Europe.
Sardinia is the third largest region of Italy and is a popular tourist destination. As an island region, the options to travel to Sardinia are by sea or air, and there are three main airports. The island can be crossed in three hours by driving, and the airports provide convenient access to different parts of the island. The three airports are Cagliari Elmas Airport, Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport, and Alghero Fertilia Airport. In this article, we take a closer look at each one.
Cagliari Elmas Airport (CAG) is the largest airport on Sardinia and is the leading international gateway to the island, with connections to mainland Italy and major European destinations. Opening in 1937 and named after Mario Mameli, an Italian Air Force pilot shot down in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, it is located approximately four miles (seven kilometers) from the city of Cagliari. Popular tourist destinations, including Carloforte, Iglèsias, The Costa Verde, Carbonia, and Pula, are easily accessible.
The airport has one runway and one terminal and is well-connected to the local transport system with several options, including rail, bus, and taxi.
In the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic, CAG handled 4.7 million passengers. Traffic has now rebounded, and in July 2022, it was back at pre-pandemic levels. 582,400 passengers and 18,765 aircraft movements were recorded in July 2022. There are 53 direct international routes and 38 domestic routes during Summer 2022. Major airlines, including British Airways, Air France, easyJet, Lufthansa and Ryanair, operate flights to Cagliari.
Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport (OLB) is situated in the northeast of Sardinia and is approximately two and a half miles (four kilometers) from the center of Olbia. It is the international gateway to the north of Sardina. The airport is a convenient place to arrive for exploring Costa Smeralda and the numerous tourist destinations nearby, including Budoni, Golfo Aranci, La Maddalena, Palau, and Santa Teresa di Gallura.
The current airport was opened in 1974, replacing a smaller airport, and has one runway and a new terminal that opened in 2004. Almost three million passengers used the airport in 2019. The airport offers flights to multiple destinations in 16 countries with an extensive domestic network across Italy, offering many seasonal routes. Major airlines operating from the airport include Condor, easyJet, Lufthansa, Volotea, and Wizz Air, with France and Germany being the top international routes.
Alghero Fertilia Airport is located five miles (eight kilometers) northwest of Alghero. With almost 1.4 million passengers in 2019, it is the smallest airport of the three and provides access to the northwest region of Sardinia. The airport is close to popular destinations, including Castelsardo, Stintino, Bosa, S'Archittu, and Porto Torres. The airport is named after the nearby village of Fertilia and has one long runway and one passenger terminal.
The airport has a long history, originally opening in 1938 as a military airport. Civil aviation began in the 1960s, and the first purpose-built passenger terminal was opened in 1971. The airport now focuses on low-cost carriers and charter airlines, offering many seasonal routes to serve the tourism sector. Airlines flying from the airport include easyJet, Ryanair, and Wizz Air to European destinations.
Sardinia is well-connected to mainland Italy and the rest of Europe and is served by various airlines. Whatever the reason for traveling to Sardinia, the airports provide the quickest ways of traveling to the island, catering to locals, tourists, and the business community.
Iain is an aviation consultant with many years of experience in airport planning and design. Iain has advised airport operators, investors and aviation regulators on all aspects of airport planning and has extensive experience of writing airport master plans. Based in Scotland

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