Milan Bergamo expands to 20mppa; we chat with its Commercial Aviation Director

Milan Bergamo expands to 20mppa; we chat with its Commercial Aviation Director

Air Arabia began a twice-weekly service from Alexandria to Milan Bergamo in May 2018. Seen on the far left is Giacomo Cattaneo, Director of Commercial Aviation, SACBO, who we interviewed for this article.

Despite the pandemic, Milan Bergamo has announced multiple new routes and its infrastructure continues to develop for the future.

We chat with Giacomo Cattaneo, Milan Bergamo’s Director of Commercial Aviation, about its development.

Milan Bergamo almost reached 14 million passengers in 2019, up from less than eight in 2010.  What has driven this? 

Cattaneo: We recorded almost 13.9 million passengers in 2019. The growth over the years is linked to many factors. Certainly, the strength of our catchment area ranks first.

The Lombardy region is the economic engine of Italy. Milan Bergamo’s location allows our users to quickly access Milan (45 kilometres to the west), but also to/from the wealthy provinces of Bergamo, Brescia, and Monza, and the entire East of Lombardy, West Veneto, and North Emilia.

These areas are densely populated, with a high concentration of production factories that generate strong outbound but also inbound business traffic..

Without all of these things, we would not have had such potential.

Add to that the tourist points of interest: cities for city breaks, mountains for skiing, lakes, and events of all kinds (fashion, MICE, furniture, and trade exhibitions).

Partner airlines are then fundamental, and throughout the years we worked a lot with our partner carriers, some with long-dated partnership (Ryanair, Wizzair, Blue Air, Pegasus Airlines, Air Arabia Maroc), others newer for us (Blue Panorama, Air Arabia Egypt, Volotea, Air Cairo, Arkia).

The growth of existing routes and airlines and the addition of many new carriers allowed us to reach new heights.  

Milan Bergamo expands to 20mppa; we chat with its Commercial Aviation Director

Milan Bergamo’s route network in full-year 2020, including destinations served before coronavirus began. Source: OAG Mapper.

What will drive Milan Bergamo’s future development?

Cattaneo: We are continuing the total transformation of our terminal.

The growth in passenger volume meant we decided to invest a lot in the expansion of our infrastructure to accommodate more in the future. All existing parts of the terminal are now very new.

Just to mention our latest developments:

  • At the end of 2019, we inaugurated a new part of the apron with eight new aircraft stands
  • In July 2020 we opened the new extra Schengen departures area with 10 gates on two floors together with a new retailing area and much more space for passengers
  • We are now working on the new extra Schengen arrivals area to be finished by the end of October 2020
  • And we’re working on the west extension to the terminal, with an enlargement of the Schengen departures and arrivals area, to be completed by August 2021

Our terminal already gives a pleasant, fresh, and modern experience to passengers. It will continue doing so and will become even bigger.

These developments will take Milan Bergamo’s previous capacity of 15 million passengers a year to at least 20 million.

Milan Bergamo expands to 20mppa; we chat with its Commercial Aviation Director

Milan Bergamo’s development will result in capacity rising to at least 20mppa.

Around 93% of Bergamo’s capacity in 2019 was provided by LCCs.  Tell us about Milan Bergamo’s ambition to secure more FSCs with hub connectivity.  

Cattaneo: LCCs were the first airlines to believe and invest in Milan Bergamo.  They understood that our potential does not only come from the proximity to Milan city, but also from the rich area for which we are the quicker choice.

Many people travel for business reasons using LCCs Bergamo.  They also use our premium services like fast track, VIP lounges, BGY TOP (our service with fully dedicated staff).

We know our surrounding area generates travel everywhere in the world, and from everywhere in the world people are coming to Milan and to East Lombardy.

Such connectivity can be offered to our potential travellers with full-service airlines and hub connectivity.

The Ryanair Group’s share of Milan Bergamo seats has remained at around 80%.  But how will its growth at Malpensa – and Wizz Air’s new base there – impact Milan Bergamo?

Cattaneo: Milan Bergamo and Milan Malpensa are on the two opposite sides of Milan.

While the city of Milan is certainly an important market for both, it is crucial to note the potential and strength of the area east of Lombardy where we are.

We generate important volumes of traffic, inbound and outbound, and for them we will remain the airport of preference.

Therefore, I do not expect Ryanair and Wizz Air growing at Malpensa to really impact us. 

Milan Bergamo expands to 20mppa; we chat with its Commercial Aviation Director

The Ryanair Group has 109 routes from Milan Bergamo in 2020, with the airport Ryanair’s fifth most profitable airport in the year to March 2020.  Fast-forwarding to full-year 2020, its top routes by seats from Bergamo are London Stansted, Naples, Bari, Palermo, Barcelona, Catania, Lamezia Terme, Brindisi, and Cagliari, OAG Schedules Analyser shows.

Blue Panorama will be starting Dakar in October, one of wider Milan’s core African destinations.   Tell us about this market.

Cattaneo: Even more than Milan, the city of Bergamo and its province has one of the largest Senegalese communities in Italy.

Blue Panorama, with its Milan Bergamo to Dakar flights, will offer a product that satisfies the needs of this community, exactly from where they live, on top of attracting business travellers.  Many local companies have invested in Senegal throughout the years.

Milan Bergamo expands to 20mppa; we chat with its Commercial Aviation Director

Blue Panorama will begin a twice-weekly Dakar service in October 2020. This is partly driven by the end of Air Italy from Malpensa, with the city-pair having 120,000 passengers in 2019. It is currently unserved.

Despite coronavirus, multiple new routes have started from Milan Bergamo – or will be starting – this year. There has been a good focus on Ukraine with SkyUp, together with Wizz Air to Tirana, Ryanair to the likes of Banja Luka, across Greece, Ukraine, and Yerevan, and more. What has driven this despite the pandemic?  

Cattaneo: The factors are many. Airlines are keen to stimulate the market. And our market needs more destinations, particularly those underserved or not served at all.

We have to be honest and say that launching routes during the pandemic is difficult and can encounter the temporary flight bans imposed by the single countries, as for some of the ones you mentioned.

Traffic volumes will return and those who have launched flights during the pandemic will be ready to benefit from it.  

Looking to the future, what are Milan Bergamo’s top-five unserved markets?

Cattaneo: Our top unserved markets are Amsterdam, the Gulf (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Sharjah), Helsinki, Paris CDG, and London Gatwick. The last two would complement our existing Paris Beauvais and London Stansted services respectively.

Milan Bergamo expands to 20mppa; we chat with its Commercial Aviation Director

Milan Bergamo’s key unserved routes are Amsterdam, Dubai/Abu Dhabi/Sharjah, Helsinki, Paris CDG, and London Gatwick. The latter was started by British Airways in September 2019, but it has ended because of coronavirus. It is a destination that is keenly sought.


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