31 March 2023

The beginnings of the extraordinary development of Milan Bergamo airport

2003-2005. The story of the airport told through Avion Tourism Magazine
In 2002, Milan Bergamo airport obtained a forty-year concession from ENAC and decided to bet on the emerging "low-cost" strategy, which focused on a pricing policy based on the quality of essential services (safety and punctuality), leaving aside anything considered superfluous in order to offer flights at competitive prices.


Ryanair, on February 14th, 2002 (Valentine's Day), launched operations at Bergamo airport by organizing a flight from Frankfurt (Hahn) with 80 young German couples on board. During the flight, the mayor of Andernach, Paul Werner Kohns, married Anya Schmitz and Thomas Pluta who landed in Bergamo as newlyweds and celebrated first in the city and then in Milan, returning home the same day. Two months later, the flight between Bergamo and London was activated, which attracted numerous passengers and convinced Ryanair to focus on Milan Bergamo, making it the reference airport in northern Italy.


Aeroporto di Milano Bergamo

Ryanair all'Aeroporto di Milano Bergamo. Foto: Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Depositphotos


In the same year, the airport management company was studying an innovative information service to offer as a welcome to the increasingly numerous passengers. On January 31, 2003, the historic editor-in-chief Eugenio Sorrentino (responsible for the airport's press office) closed the first issue of Avion Tourism Magazine dedicated to Milan Bergamo Airport, in a glossy paper edition published bimonthly.


On February 6th, 2003, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary inaugurated the BGY base, which became the airline's hub for Southern Europe, while simultaneously launching flights to Barcelona (Girona), Brussels (Charleroi), Hamburg (Lubeck), Paris (Beauvais), London (Luton), in addition to those already operated to Frankfurt (Hahn) and London (Stansted).

The success of Ryanair led many low-cost airlines to focus on the Bergamo airport, activating new national and international destinations starting from 2003.
Air Atlas AIR BERLIN* air dolomiti alisea* azzurra air* Basiqair* BMIBABY* Carpatair  flybe*
Casablanca Berlin Munich Pescara Rome (FCO) Amsterdam Cardif Timisoara Birmingham
  Dortmund         East Midlands   Southampton
gandalf* hapaglloyd jet2 Luxair Meridiana* skyeurope* sterling* tacv volare WEb* 
Paris Orly Cologne Leeds Bradford Athens Cagliari Bratislava Copenhagen Cabo Verde Bari
Barcelona Hannover   Luxembourg Olbia Budapest Oslo   Cagliari
Stuttgart         Krakow Stockholm   Catania
          Warsaw     Rome (FCO)
In 2003, the airport recorded its first-ever record year of traffic activity, with a total of 2 million and 844 thousand passengers, representing a 127% increase from the previous year.
In 2004, the Airport Development Plan was approved by ministerial decree, which included new business strategies and a series of internal and external adjustments to the terminal to accommodate the progressive and constant increase in passengers while maintaining high standards of quality and efficiency.
In May of the same year, Wizz Air arrived in Bergamo, initially starting with connections to Katowice and Budapest, and gradually expanding its network to Eastern Europe, becoming the second operator by the number of routes served after Ryanair in the following years. During the same period, Neos made its debut, connecting Bergamo with Ibiza.
Wizz air at Milan Bergamo Airport. Photo: Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Depositphotos
On November 16, 2004, the three billionth passenger passed through the airport, and the year ended with an additional increase of half a million units compared to 2003.
In 2005, Alitalia* activated two daily flights to Rome Fiumicino, and Ryanair added new routes to its existing ones (Hamburg/Lubeck, Bratislava, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle, Shannon, Oslo Torp, Eindhoven, Zaragoza, Seville, Valencia, Stockholm Skavsta). Some airlines abandoned the airport, leaving room for new carriers with new connections.
aerlingus Albatros air slovakya* binter canarias Blue air* elbafly* Estonian* Smartwings virgin Express* windjet*
Dublin Tirana Amritsar Gran Canaria Bucarest Isola d'Elba Tallinn Prague Bruxelles Bucarest
    Bratislava         Rome Ciampino    
The Italian airline Myair.com* established one of its two bases in Milan Bergamo, activating connections to Bari, Brindisi, Bucharest, Cagliari, Catania, Ibiza, Lampedusa, Madrid, Naples, Olbia, and Palermo.
 Aeroporto di Milano Bergamo. Foto: Copyright © Sacbo
The airport became one of the European stopovers with the most convenient flights, based on the average fares offered by low-cost airlines, and according to the Low Cost Flight Observatory, seven out of the twenty cheapest routes in Europe departed from Milan Bergamo.
In the ranking of Italian airports by number of passengers, in 2005 Milan Bergamo rose to fifth place, after the airports of Fiumicino, Malpensa, Linate, and Venice, with an increase in passengers of 25% compared to the previous year, bringing the number of travelers to over four million.
This significant and steady growth was achieved thanks to the operational structure of the airport, which has always worked to ensure the highest level of efficiency and assistance to passengers and carriers.
* The following airlines have ceased operations: Air Berlin (2017), Air Slovakya (2010), Alisea (2003), Alitalia (which transferred its brand to Ita Airways in 2021), Azzurra Air (2004), Basiq Air integrated into Transavia in 2004), Blue Air (2022), Bmibaby (2012), Flybe (2020), Elbafly (2010), Estonian Air (2015), Gandalf (2004), Meridiana (2018), Myair (2009), Skyeurope (2009), Sterling (2008), Volareweb (integrated into Alitalia in 2015), Virgin Express (integrated into Brussels Airlines in 2006), Windjet (2012).
Aeroporto di Milano Bergamo
Milan Bergamo. Photo: Copyright © Sacbo
At the heart of the editorial project was the need to entertain the passenger while waiting for the flight at the airport, and at the same time provide them with informative and service-oriented readings during the flight. A series of fixed columns were conceived, such as "Milano Bergamo News" and "News from the Carriers," to provide passengers with information on the services offered at the airport, to which were added columns called "Tourism," "Destinations," "Fabulous destinations" that talked about locations directly and indirectly connected to BGY. The information was completed with a focus on "Bergamo and more," news on the main events in the area, and various lifestyle columns.
At the graphic level, the AVION logo was designed, which featured the letter O transformed into an airplane window from which the profile of Bergamo Alta could be seen, and a bilingual layout (Italian and English) on two parallel columns in 21x28 cm format, printed on matte coated paper with a laminated cover and a glossy screen print of the logo.
The magazine was registered at the Bergamo Tribunal with the N1/2003 on January 19, 2003, by Ferrari Grafiche Spa (at that time the publisher of the Orobie magazine specialized in photographic books), which also handled the printing of paper copies that were distributed free of charge in dedicated exhibitors located in various points of the airport.
The editorial team, led by Eugenio Sorrentino, included a fixed editor and various external collaborators, while Annalisa Trivigno, Marketing and Communication Director of the publishing house, was entrusted with the commercial and promotional management of the magazine. The bimonthly frequency was chosen, and six issues were published per year.
The editorials of the 12 issues of the magazine published from 2003 to 2004 were all signed by the historical President Ilario Testa, as a special welcome from the Management Company to the passengers who passed through the airport and enjoyed reading the magazine while waiting for their flight.
 Historical covers Avion Tourism Magazine Photo: Copyright © Sisterscom.com 
The destinations proposed by the editorial staff 20 years ago, to the airport passengers, in the first six published issues were:
INTERNATIONAL DESTINATIONS fabulous destinations Bergamo and more
Athens Australia island continent Borgo Canale culla del Donizetti
Amsterdam Dubai Camerata Cornello
Barcelona Ecotourism in Jordan The Walls of Bergamo
Cabo Verde Madagascar Snow planet in the Bergamo valleys
Berlin Mexico Indian heart Sotto il Monte
Formentera Polynesia The paths of Orobie
Paris Santo Domingo  
Sharm el Sheik Sud Africa  
Dubai marina Photo: Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Depositphotos
Dubai, considered a "Mythical Destination" 20 years ago, is now directly accessible with the new Flydubai flights from Milan Bergamo with five weekly operational connections that will become daily starting from April 18th, 2023, for an unforgettable vacation featuring sea, adventure, and shopping.
Amman in Jordan Photo: Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Depositphotos
Even Jordan, not directly connected at the time, can now be reached thanks to Ryanair with 3 weekly flights to Amman scheduled for the 2023 summer season.
Amsterdam is now connected with 3 weekly flights by easyjet, while daily flights by Ryanair allow you to reach historic destinations such as Athens, Barcelona, Berlin (Brandenburg) and Paris (Beauvais).
Snorkeling in Red sea: Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Depositphotos
The historic Neos company continues to fly with 2 weekly flights to Sharm el Sheik, the renowned Egyptian seaside resort on the Red Sea, as well as flights to Marsa Alam.
Selection of Historic covers 2004 Avion Tourism Magazine Photos: Copyright © Sisterscom.com 
In the 2004 summer season, 15 airlines were operating, serving 31 destinations in 17 countries and the following destinations were chosen and promoted in the issues of the magazine:
INTERNATIONAL DESTINATIONS fabulous destinations Bergamo and more
Bruxelles Canada Bergamo città dei mille
Budapest Mauritius Crespi d'Adda
Copenhagen Morocco imperial ardor Cruising on Lake Iseo
The Camino de Santiago Tunisia between desert oasis and sea The presolana
Malta Tourism in Argentina The Orobic Pre-Alps
Munich Punjab between culture and sacredness Lovere
Scotland magical land Journey to the Pacific  
Stockholm Zanzibar  
Today there are 143 destinations that can be reached from Milan Bergamo airport, connected by 21 airlines that reach 39 countries.
Sharjah photo: Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Depositphotos
Morocco is connected from Bergamo to Casablanca thanks to the four weekly flights of Air Arabia Maroc.
Since last December, Air Arabia UAE has also activated 4 direct flights to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
The distant Indian region of Punjab can still be reached as 20 years ago by flying with Spicejet to the city of Amritsar.
Mauritius Photo: Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Depositphotos
The Mauritius Islands, but also the Maldives and the most beautiful Asian destinations can today be easily reached starting from Bergamo with a continuous flight to the Dubai Hub flying with flydubai and continuing with the same company or with Emirates Airlines.
Ryanair connects the cities of Brussels (CRL), Copenhagen and Stockholm (ARN) with daily flights.
Again with Ryanair flights, the island of Malta is reachable thanks to 4 weekly frequencies, while to Tenerife you can fly every day of the week except Sundays and Mondays.
The Camino de Santiago Photo: Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Depositphotos
The northern routes of the Camino de Santiago declared World Heritage by Unesco can be reached thanks to the new Volotea connection to Asturias.
The new Bergamo - Oviedo flight departing every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday will allow you to get to know not only the city of Oviedo but also the natural paradise of Asturias that surrounds it.
Santiago de Compostela can also be reached directly thanks to Ryanair's 4 weekly flights.
Selection of Historic covers 2004 Avion Tourism Magazine Photos: Copyright © Sisterscom.com 
In just 3 years, the destinations reachable from Milan Bergamo airport increased from 36 to 51 and the number of passengers exceeded 4 million in 2005, surpassing 1.2 million in 2002. This incredible success led to a revision of editorial content, giving not only more space to directly connected destinations, but also to the Bergamo area, to provide useful information to the many arriving passengers to discover Bergamo and its surroundings.
NATIONAL DESTINATIONS fabulous destinations Bergamo and more
Brindisi Bratislava Brescia
Naples Budapest Clusone
  Krakow Romanesque magic
  Dusseldorf Accademia Carrara
  Katowice The Valley of the Cold
  Madrid The squares of the upper city
  Prague San Pellegrino
  Vienna Historic Homes Tour
  Valencia Winter holidays in the Bergamo valleys
  Zaragoza Val Calepio
All the destinations published in 2005 are still reachable today thanks to Ryanair flights operating from BGY. To find out the seasonal flight schedule and frequency, it is very useful to consult the dedicated page on the airport's website.
  Bergamo. Piazza Vecchia. Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Shutterstock 
  Brescia. The Capitolium. Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Shutterstock 
In addition to being the 20th anniversary year of Avion Tourism Magazine, 2023 is also an extremely important year for the city of Bergamo, which together with Brescia is the Italian Capital of Culture 2023, and of which the airport is one of the main supporters and sponsors.
And the story continues...
Edited by Alisè Vitri
Avion Tourism Magazine
Visual: foto Copyright © Sacbo


Aeroporto di Milano BergamoMilan Bergamo Airport. Photo: Copyright © Sacbo
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