Milan Bergamo expands its airside capacity

posted on 18th March 2019

Milan’s second airport is investing in new apron infrastructure as it gears up for further traffic flows through the gateway

In December, Italy’s Milan Bergamo Airport went operational with several new infrastructure projects, developments that it says further improve its handling of aircraft operations, add further terminal capacity and enhance “the passenger experience”.

Most prominent amongst the new infrastructure were eight new aircraft stands, a move that has increased the airport’s aircraft parking capacity by 21%. Milan Bergamo now has 47 independent stands designed to accommodate ICAO Code C specified aircraft.

Milan Bergamo, located about 45km north-east of the city centre (Milan is also served by Malpensa and Linate airports), handled almost 13 million passengers over the 12 months of 2018, up by 4.9% on the 2017 figure. And the gateway’s operator, Società per l’Aeroporto Civile di Bergamo – Orio al Serio (or SACBO for short), is expecting more of the same this year.

“The opening of these stands has come at a time when Milan Bergamo has experienced a 4.16% growth in aircraft movements during the first 11 months of the year,” observed Giacomo Cattaneo, director of commercial aviation at SACBO, in December 2018 (the final figure for the 12 months of 2018 was actually 89,533 aircraft movements, 4% up on 2017). “By adding more stand capacity, the airport is further improving the efficiency of the airfield’s operation, benefiting our current and future airline customers.”

Improvements have also been made inside the passenger terminal, most notably a new check-in area. Milan Bergamo has invested heavily in these improvement, and the airport plans to spend a further €41.5 million in coming years to – it says – “place itself as one of the leading gateways to Milan, and indeed Italy”.

Phased improvements

Speraking to Airside about these latest developments, Cattaneo offers further insight into SACBO’s plans for further investment. “The [development] programme has been divided into three phases,” he says, “the first of which dates back to 2014 when work began on the upgrade and development of Milan Bergamo Airport flight [handling] infrastructure.

“In May 2014 there was the redevelopment of the entire paving of the runway and the construction of the connecting fitting. Then, on 2 May 2018, we started work on the extension of the North Apron, work that finished on 18 December.

“It took just eight months to finish an important project that involved a total area of approximately 104,000 square metres: of which 36,000 were destined for the extension of Taxiway Y, 32,000 involved the expansion of the North Apron and 36,000 square metres were for the extension of Taxiway W.”

Cattaneo continues: “Along with the expansion of the North Apron, also now available are eight new aircraft stands (ICAO classification C), which can be used, alternatively, also as four stands for aircraft of category D and E.

“In addition, in the north-eastern part of the apron, we envisage the construction of an engine test site that will be used by aircraft of up to category C in self-handling and the D and E categories in push-back.”

Finally: “In 2025, the third phase of the plan will begin, which will lead to a further expansion [of the airport] to the east. In the north, there will also be [built] hangars and sheds with connecting infrastructure, with the aim of creating a new cargo area.”

The cost of expanding the North Apron was €11 million and, Cattaneo confirms, the bulk of the next phase of investment will be on the airport terminal building and its facilities:  February 2019 will see the start of terminal extension works called Lotto 4A, which is set to cost a total of € 14.4 million.

In addition to the redevelopment and expansion of the terminal interior, two new piers will also be built, alongside a simultaneous increase from 5 to 10 of the number of boarding gates in Milan Bergamo’s non-Schengen area. There is also to be a brand new VIP lounge, new duty-free area, and new shops and restaurants.

All these improvements are designed to help the gateway cater to expanding traffic through its doors. This year, SACBO expects to handle 13 million passengers, with further growth in subsequent years to follow. Meanwhile, in terms of cargo, Cattaneo predicts handling more than 120,000 tons of freight this year.

Milan Bergamo Airport is Italy’s third-largest airport by annual passenger numbers and freight. It serves more than 120 destinations across 35 countries, and expects that figure to reach 125 routes across 38 countries by this summer. Ten new routes have already been confirmed for the summer season.