22 August 2023

Interview with Giovanni Sanga

President for the second consecutive term of Milan Bergamo Airport
President Sanga, you have recently been reappointed as superintendent for the operation and management of the airport. Could you explain to us the tasks that the presidency of the third busiest Italian airport involves, and give us an overview of your first term?
I oversee a board of directors that represents the wishes of the SACBO shareholders, and they appointed me for a three-year term, which was reconfirmed in May. I am delighted and honoured by the faith they have shown in me, and I am fully aware of the commitment that I have assumed since receiving the appointment to replace the late Roberto Bruni. I must confess that, following the excellent results achieved at the end of 2019, with 13.8 million passengers served, I would never have imagined that I would have had to face as difficult and incredible a season as that related to the pandemic. We were able to overcome the impasse and the unpredictable nature of the situation, agreeing on the need to preserve human resources and continue with the programme of works and investments. Immediately after the end of the first period of lockdown, we inaugurated the new area for non-Schengen flights, and the following year saw the expansion of the west wing of the terminal, moving cargo operations and services to the northern area of the airport, logistically separating them from passenger flows. At the same time, in line with a multimodal view of services, we became the first “bike friendly” airport company and airport in Europe. We focused on recovering air traffic, and we were rewarded, finding ourselves on the starting blocks in terms of organisation and operativity, and hiring new staff from winter 2022 onwards.
Just a few months after your first appointment, the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, heavily affecting the air transportation sector, and you found yourself having to manage an unprecedented health, financial and management crisis. The airport has now greatly exceeded pre-Covid results, continuing its natural path of growth, but what mark has this experience left on your professional and personal life?
I believe that I saw great trust and a strong sense of collaboration in all the people involved in the life and the success of the airport. I am talking about the shareholders, who gave their support to the company strategy to continue with plans, and who believed in our ability to survive, and in particular about the airport staff in all areas. I remember their tired faces and their worried expressions, but I also recall their tenacity in wanting at all costs to recommence, and the return to the office after the end of smart working, and to the various positions both inside and outside the terminal, after which flights were gradually restored. It was a trying period of sacrifice and renouncement. On behalf of SACBO, I feel it is necessary to express my extreme gratitude to everyone.
 Giovanni Sanga President of Milan Bergamo Airport. Photo: Copyright © Sacbo Spa
 Giovanni Sanga President of Milan Bergamo Airport. Photo: Copyright © Sacbo Spa
Environmental sustainability has become increasingly important in the aviation sector. What action has Milan Bergamo Airport taken to reduce the environmental impact of its operations?
Sustainability is essential, but it is the result of collaboration among all the figures operating in the air transportation sector. It is clear that the airport management company works to containing its operational impact as much as possible. SACBO has invested 14 million euros for mitigation works concerning residential properties most exposed to noise, which has been reduced in the meantime thanks to the modernisation of airline fleets with the arrival of latest-generation aircraft that reduce noise by around 40%. We are participating in the NetZero50 programme, and we are one of the airports that has adopted an advanced aircraft handling system, which optimises operations, guaranteeing full efficiency in terms of safety and leading to savings in fuel consumption. We have focused on energy savings and digitalisation, while in terms of accessibility, the arrival of train connections in 2026 will allow a third of our passengers to arrive by rail instead of by road. Furthermore, the ring of cycle paths around the airport will connect with the interprovincial cycle routes, contributing to the growth of cycle tourism. 
20 years ago, the president Ilario Testa chose to offer passengers an official printed magazine as a form of welcome and an additional service, providing information and entertainment while in the airport and in flight. Now, Avion Tourism Magazine plays the same role and, in line with the times, has become digital, interactive and sustainable, and can be read both online and offline. How important is it for an airport to offer quality services to its passengers?
The last two decades have seen changes not only in commercial air traffic, which have characterised and favoured the development of our airport, but also in the tools used to communicate with passengers and all those who make use of the airport services, or in any case who require information. Immediateness is increasingly important. It is clear that the great majority of people use a smartphone to keep up to date, without forgetting that flights are almost always booked directly by the passenger via computer. As well as in the official website (milanbergamoairport.it), SACBO has for some time invested in digital communication, opening official social media profiles and creating a direct line of communication with its public.
 Giovanni Sanga President of Milan Bergamo Airport. Photo: Copyright © Sacbo Spa
 Giovanni Sanga President of Milan Bergamo Airport. Photo: Copyright © Sacbo Spa
What are the most important development and improvement initiatives that Bergamo Airport has planned for the near future, and which will you be managing personally over the next three years as president?
The period between 2024 and 2026 will see the termination of decidedly important works that will mark the completion of what we consider to be the definitive form of the airport infrastructure. Next year, with the further expansion to the east of the terminal, for which SACBO has invested 40 million euros, a new and larger check-in area will be available, with relative security controls equipped with x-ray machines that allow liquids and electronic equipment to be left in baggage. In the meantime, road access from the east will be opened, with the creation of new additional car parking in the second short-stay area introduced in July. We will also be able to take advantage of the road connecting the Bergamo motorway exit to the airport access road. With regards to works managed directly by SACBO, we will see the completion of the connection between the western side of the airport and the future train station, which is due to see the arrival of the first trains in 2026. For the next three years, we have planned a series of further actions aimed at energy saving and the digitalisation of management and control systems. We will be aiming above all for a further increase in quality, in order to guarantee overall improvements in efficiency.
Interview by Angela Trivigno
Avion Tourism Magazine
Photo: Copyright © Sacbo Spa 
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