Air Service One talks with…… Andrea Andorno, CEO, Torino Airport
In its 20th year, Connect is taking place in Turin, within the Piemonte region of Italy. The conference will again bring airlines and airports together to discuss all aspects of air service development!
Air Service One had the opportunity ahead of the conference to talk with Andrea Andorno, CEO, Torino Airport, about its successful rebuild after the pandemic, its relationship with Ryanair and what his focus is on for the coming year!
And in the tradition of Air Service One talks with, we find out a little more about the man originally from Genoa!
It has now been just over two years since Ryanair opened its base in Turin. How would you describe your partnership with the ULCC and do you see further room for growth?
We are definitely satisfied with the opening of the Ryanair base in November 2021. The fact that the company invested in our airport in the middle of the pandemic was strategically significant too. With the launch of many new international routes at affordable fares, Turin has become an accessible destination to many foreign markets that were previously unserved. At the same time people of Piedmont have become able to reach several new destinations directly. As a result, we have recorded two consecutive years of record traffic with Ryanair playing a significant role in all of this. The airline currently has two aircraft based in Turin and we are looking forward to having more in the future: we know our airport has still plenty of room for growth in terms of traffic.
Turin Airport is well ahead of its pre-pandemic passenger figures. What has been the main contributing factor to this success?
In 2023 we broke the record of 4.5 million passengers for the first time, with an increase of +8% over 2022 (the previous record year) and +14.7% over the pre-pandemic period. This growth is due to the increasing number of passengers from abroad, who have been able to reach and appreciate the many tourist attractions of our region. Since we have been monitoring traffic flows at our airport using big data technology we can state that the number of incoming foreign passengers has increased by +72% compared to before the pandemic. This is due to the increased connectivity with foreign markets that were not previously served.
How many passengers are you targeting in 2024?
The winter season has just begun, and we still have three months of winter ahead of us. This is a very busy period for our airport, because of the snow charters carrying skiers from Northern Europe, the UK and Ireland. This year they have once again confirmed their importance. After these first few weeks of operations, we see the month of January has started off with some growth with respect to the same period last year. As for the summer, although it is still being finalised, we know that a number of key products in our destination portfolio will be improved in terms of frequencies and some new destinations added too. Our overall expectation is therefore to be able to keep our growth path started since the end of the pandemic.
Middle Eastern carriers have in recent year begun adding secondary Italian airports to their network, notably Flydubai. Do you see potential for services to Middle Eastern hubs in the future?
The Middle East is certainly missing from our network, and we see great potential there. We are confident that there is no shortage of demand in our catchment area, both leisure and business. Let’s not forget that Turin is Italy’s 4th largest city in terms of inhabitants and our region’s economy accounts for more than 7.7% of the Italian GDP. This is a development opportunity not only for connecting traffic on routes feeding hubs, but also for the point to point traffic to where these hubs are located. It’s clear that the first carrier appreciating the full east-bound potential of our market will immediately benefit from a unique positioning.
What other unserved destinations have potential to be launched from Turin?
Looking west-bound, Portugal and its capital Lisbon would be an interesting addition to our network. Other European capitals that are currently not directly connected with Turin, such as Berlin and Athens are clear examples of big traffic flows not served directly. We also still miss a summer-only offer for the big Turin outgoing market to several Greek and Spanish islands. Outside Europe, it would certainly be interesting to expand into North Africa, I am thinking of Tunisia or Egypt.
The Connect Aviation Forum is being held in Turin this year. How important is this for the airport and its route development plans?
We are very pleased that Turin and Piedmont are hosting Connect 2024, one of the most important events in the aviation sector, which will bring operators from all over Europe to our territory. The entire hospitality industry will have an exceptional opportunity to surprise Connect2024 delegates with visitor experiences that will make us a must-visit destination for all airlines and airports. We are confident in the so called Turin “WOW” factor. So far it has always worked by leveraging on being among the best and unknown Cities in Italy when it comes to art, museums, food and shopping.
Can you tell us more about the Torino Green Airport project and its objectives
Torino Airport has been working for years to be more efficient and sustainable: in July 2021 we launched the ‘Torino Green Airport’ project, which brings together all the initiatives put in place in the past, those underway and those to come to make the airport even more sustainable. A strong positioning on the environmental sustainability of an airport infrastructure represents and it will increasingly represent a qualifying element in order to counter the growing criticism associated with the environmental impact of the air transport industry. The ‘Torino Green Airport’ environmental sustainability path is therefore developed with a precise strategy: through the implementation of direct interventions, it aims to involve not only the employees of the SAGAT Group, but also the entire airport community, the commercial partners, the suppliers, the passengers.
Decarbonisation it’s a must not only for us, but for the whole industry as well.
Our strategy has been structured in two phases: the first one, 2010-2020, in which emissions has been reduced through energy efficiency measures that halved the site’s primary energy consumption; the second one, currently onwards, based on the decarbonisation of energy supplies. Torino Airport’s strategy is consistent with the NetZero 2050 approach and with the commitments referring to Toulouse Declaration.
In July 2023, we inaugurated the new photovoltaic plant, the largest ever built on the roof of an Italian airport: the plant is able to generate 1,585 MWh of electricity per year, covering up to 12% of the airport’s annual needs.
Among the most important initiatives of Torino Green Airport we have the replacement of the airport vehicles with fully electric vehicles for aircraft handling, allowing a 100% green turnaround process, to which we added an electric ambulance. Another important milestone, was the achievement of the ACA-Airport Carbon Accreditation Level 3 ‘Optimisation’ environmental certification in 2022. Finally, as a partner in the European TULIPS project, dedicated to innovation for environmental sustainability in the aviation industry, Torino Airport has already installed a second photovoltaic system as part of a smart grid at the airport fire station.
Air Service Fun…
Favourite football team?
My hometown team Genoa, the oldest football team in Italy, once it’s in your DNA it will stay with you regardless where you’ll be living.
Favourite sport to watch/play?
Being Italian, I cannot reply anything other than football, even if ATP Finals in Turin in the last few years have provided quite a tennis show!
Favourite European leisure destination?
I travel a lot and I love to change my favourite destination often! Having said so every summer I go back to Sardinia for some time with my family, best crystal-clear waters in the Mediterranean with plenty of direct flights from Turin.
Favourite aircraft you have flown on?
B747 will always be a great memory (as they say “you never forget you first long-haul flight”).
Your favourite airline livery?
I like Southwest airlines livery. The idea of the heart logo on the aircraft belly really shows their commitment to how much they care about their passengers.
Easiest three-letter IATA airport code to remember?
To me JFK, once you will fly there you will never forget that code.