Over the course of the year, readers of ACI Insights will have the opportunity to meet members of the ACI World Governing Board (WGB). This article features Nazareno Ventola, CEO of Aeroporto G. Marconi di Bologna.
I guess “exciting” is the right word to describe our industry right now—Bologna Airport being no exception. Our experience was, at least until February 2020, of a growing industry. Although there with some temporary crises such as 9/11 and SARS, the path seemed to be quite clear. Then came COVID-19 and all our “certainties” disappeared in a few days. After 2.5 years during our summer 2022 season, we’re experiencing a much faster traffic comeback than we all expected, which places high pressure on operations. We are all working to manage it to the best of our capacity. In any case, “overabundance” challenges are, in my opinion, better than the “scarcity” ones we were facing in 2020 and 2021.
Current challenges at Bologna Airport are in line with what we are experiencing in Europe these days, with a small but relevant peculiarity: in Italy, thanks to our government’s labour policy and furlough support scheme, we were able to retain most of our staff, even during the darkest days of the pandemic. Therefore, we’re not experiencing the same level of workforce shortages felt at airports in other countries in Europe.
On the other hand, we know that we’re a global and interconnected industry, so we’ve been affected by the difficulties of other systems in terms of rush baggage, delays, and cancellations. If we try to look beyond summer 2022, I can see a lot of uncertainties about how business will evolve in autumn considering the international situation and the impact of inflation on consumers’ behavior. At the same time, I see an opportunity to accelerate on business transformation and build an aviation industry that is more resilient, even “anti-fragile,” to future shocks. We must not forget the lessons we’ve been learning during the pandemic and apply them in this sort of “new normal”: be flexible, adjust decisions quickly when needed, and take care of our people and our customers.
I hope we can make our connection with members even stronger and focus on key issues such as sustainability, customer experience, and economic regulation. We must continue to fight against this outdated idea that airports are “monopolies” that need to be heavily regulated. I acknowledge that there are different realities at global and local levels—but from my over 20-year experience in the industry—airports are, and need to be considered, businesses in their own right. This is true especially today, with the level of customer choice that we have, facilitated by digital innovation. I know very well how Bologna Airport competes within and outside its catchment area, but I’m also aware that competition also exists between intercontinental hubs within the same or different regions of the world.
We’ve put the passenger at the core of our strategy for many years now. We’ve been participating in the ASQ for some time as well and find it very important as a tool for continuous improvement. At Bologna Airport we decided, in 2018, to create a new department merging IT & Innovation with Quality Management. The reason for that is that I strongly believe technology is and will continue be a key enabler in improving customer experience. Under a single management area, we are able to deliver results faster.
We decided in 2021 to update our Sustainability Strategy, with a dedicated cross-functional Sustainability Committee that delivered a new 5-Year Sustainability Strategic Plan, approved by our Board of Directors. The Plan addresses the three areas (People, Planet, and Prosperity) of the UN 2030 Agenda. Among the projects we are carrying on I wish to mention: gender equality (at Bologna Airport our gender salary gap is 0.6% in favour of women), decarbonization initiatives (we are committed to become net zero by 2030 according to ACI Airport Carbon Accreditation metrics), and the creation of a sustainable ESG-oriented supply chain, including our business partners as much as we can.
Nazareno Ventola joined Aeroporto G. Marconi di Bologna in January 2000 from previous experiences in the energy and consultancy industries. As Analysis & Planning Manager he helped building strategic planning, business development and benchmarking practices within the company. In 2002 he became Planning & Control Director, with responsibilities on the corporate planning and management control process and on economic regulation and in 2011 he became Strategy and Corporate Performance Management Director, being responsible for coordination and promotion of the “strategic conversation” within the company and focusing on monitoring corporate performance and strategic business development. In 2013 he became Managing Director and in July 2015 CEO of Aeroporto G. Marconi di Bologna. In 2015 Nazareno Ventola led Aeroporto G. Marconi di Bologna to a successful landing at the Italian Stock Exchange “Borsa Italiana”, through an IPO that allowed the opening of the majority of the Company’s shareholding to private investors. Nazareno Ventola holds a cum laude MSc degree in Chemical Engineering; he’s currently ACI World Board Member.
The ACI World WGB consists of 28 representatives nominated by the regional ACI Boards, plus the Immediate Past Chair of the Board. The number of regional representatives is calculated based on each region’s share of passenger and cargo traffic.
It meets twice a year for strategic discussions on key subjects for airport operators that reflect the concerns and interests of ACI members. They also determine ACI’s worldwide policies, report to the General Assembly, approve the budget, worldwide program of activities, policy statements and participation in the work of other world bodies, among other duties.