On July 16, 1970, the Company for Bergamo Orio al Serio Civil Airport (SACBO) was established at the Bergamo Chamber of Commerce, an act that concluded a long process that had begun two years earlier to give life to the business of civil aviation on the pre-existing military airport, dating back to 1939. Exactly one year after its establishment, from a purely operational point of view, the Superior Council of Civil Aviation gave a favorable opinion at the start of flights, allowing connections to be made with Rome, Cagliari, Alghero and Catania.
But the first civilian flight from Orio al Serio airport took place on March 21,1972. It was a Tuesday, the ITAVIA “DC 9” took off at 9.15 am and landed an hour later at Rome Ciampino; there were 18 passengers on board. The headlines of those days in the local newspapers were enthusiastic, a new frontier had opened, a new connection and communication point, the Bergamo Orio al Serio Civil Airport was born.
The ITAVIA airline operated on the Orobic airport for eight years, before its premature discontinuation, with a fleet of Douglas DC-9 and Fokker F28 “Fellowship” jet twin-jets, connecting Bergamo Orio al Serio airport with scheduled flights. for the summer season of 1972, to these destinations: Cagliari; Catania; Naples; Crotone; Rome; Lecce; Corfu. The ITAVIA company operating at Orio al Serio airport gave the initial input to grow the airport up to the present day.
The 50th anniversary was celebrated on March 21 last in Bergamo, at the Donizetti Theater. On the occasion, the president of SACBO, Giovanni Sanga, said: «In the first thirty years, traveling by plane meant above all work and vacation; we flew the bare essentials. In the last twenty habits have changed, people fly for study, cultural exchange and tourism, there are “air commuters” who return home in the day and it was Bergamo airport that was the architect of a profound transformation of the way of flying, establishing itself as the best European airport in the category between 5 and 15 million passengers “.
The Orio al Serio track then measured 1,800 meters and at the end of the following decade it would be progressively lengthened to 2,800 meters. In the first years passenger traffic was very limited, but the movement of goods acquired an important strategic value. Since 1976, for decades, the express courier business has become a specialization for the airport, representing an important market share on a national level and making it the third Italian airport after Fiumicino and Malpensa.
Subsequently, attention was focused on the airport infrastructure which began to take shape in the second half of the 1980s, with the first block of interventions that made it possible to have an airport suitable for accommodating an increasing number of passengers and an aircraft apron capable of increasing its operational capacity. In fact, on February 26, 1986 the new terminal and the new control tower were inaugurated. The interventions for the upgrading of infrastructures and services continued until 1995. In October 1998, with an interruption of only 48 hours, an extension of the runway from 2,850 to 3,022 meters was made and in 1999 for the first time there was the exceeding the annual quota of one million passengers.
But the turning point in passenger traffic began on February 14, 2002, when Ryanair started its operations at Orio al Serio Airport, with a flight from Frankfurt-Hahn. From the following year, with the opening of Ryanair of its operational base, the passenger movement gradually increased, passing from 1.2 to 2.7 million and thus starting a continuous growth, up to almost 14 million at the end of 2019. .
In the meantime, the process for the construction of the connection with the train was started and the foundations were laid for the Airport Development Plan to 2030. In the meantime, since 2011 the airport has taken the name“The Caravaggio“. The title to the famous painter Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio, arrived by ENAC exactly on March 23, 2011. And right at Bergamo airport, for the occasion, on March 21st, Poste Italiane set up a dedicated philatelic space (next to the sculpture of “Il Caravaggio” by Giacomo Manzù, in front of the entrance door 3 to the terminal), where it was possible to obtain the cancellation with the special stamp created for the occasion. This cancellation, in the round format, surrounded by the legend 50th Anniversary of the First scheduled flight and the writing “Milan Bergamo Airport”, reproduces the two inverted dates 2022-1972 and the BGYFLY writing in mirror, with the image of two planes in flight in the opposite direction, representing the take-off and landing phase.
In addition, to worthily commemorate this anniversary, SACBO, in collaboration with Poste Italiane, has created a limited edition philatelic postcard dedicated to the Bergamo airport, which bears the inscription: “50 years flying over the world” and the image of the runway flight with a plane taking off, photograph by Kamal Haroui.