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Aeroporti di Roma’s strategy to welcome the recovery of traffic and build the airport of the future

Marco Troncone, CEO of Aeroporti di Roma, outlines how they plan to move forward from the COVID-19 crisis and how they are eager to accelerate both sustainable, innovative, and passenger-centric initiatives.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the most severe and persistent crisis that the air transport sector has ever faced. Dealing with the health emergency by working to contribute to the gradual recovery of traffic and restore passenger confidence, while simultaneously offering our support to the institutions and the community, has represented an incredible challenge for Aeroporti di Roma (ADR), as well as an opportunity to look to the future and reflect upon the evolution of our sector.

Sustainability

The events of the last two years have indeed strengthened our perspective regarding those that should be seen as the central pillars of our strategy to transform our airports into the ‘smart hubs’ of the future: i.e., sustainability, innovation, quality and development, as part of a people-centric overall approach.

Sustainability is, for us, a key driver, fully integrated in every aspect of our business with the primary goal of zeroing our CO2 emissions by 2030 – at least 20 years ahead of the sector’s targets at European level – with a plan mainly aimed at renewable sources and electric mobility, including investments in the construction of multi-MW photovoltaic plants and low‑carbon transport infrastructures, electric charging stations and the enhancement of electric car sharing.

As part of our plan to contribute to the decarbonisation of the whole aviation sector, we are now strongly committed to ensuring the distribution of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to airlines: In October 2021, Fiumicino Airport (FMO) was the first airport in Italy to make SAF available and, thanks to a fruitful partnership with Eni, around 3,000 tonnes of Jet fuel + Eni SAF recently arrived at Fiumicino, which will allow ITA Airways to power two routes throughout 2022.

Reduction of energy consumption, photovoltaic systems, decarbonisation, optimisation of separate waste collection, reduction of drinking water consumption, are thus Aeroporti di Roma’s main areas of commitment – a commitment which we have made even more mandatory and monitored by placing a €500 million sustainability-linked bond, a globally innovative operation, which directly links the cost of debts to the objectives concerning the reduction of direct and indirect CO2 emissions controlled by ADR, but also of those depending on third parties.

Green finance

The choice to embark on such an innovative and challenging path of green finance – whose success has been confirmed by the financial markets’ positive reaction – reflects our overall vision, which also involves an avantgarde approach to issues such as accessibility, intermodality, and new forms of mobility.

In this respect, we believe that airports must have an intermodal transport vision to increasingly place themselves within a functional transport network with a low environmental impact. Today, 74 per cent of journeys to Fiumicino Airport take place on private transport, and existing rail connections only reach some areas of Rome. In light of this data, and considering the strong impact that Fiumicino Airport has on the region, it is a priority for us to further develop sustainable mobility and accessibility.

Smart hubs

To this purpose, in March 2022, we signed an agreement with Ferrovie dello Stato, Italy’s largest railway holding company, to promote rail-air integration and enhance Fiumicino’s role as a smart hub, considerably increasing the connectivity opportunities for travellers, enhancing accessibility to the airport, while also mapping out and anticipating new forms of mobility and contributing to making Fiumicino Airport even more ready for the recovery of tourism.

Our predominant initiative, in this field, is the creation of an eco-system for the development of urban air mobility (UAM). In partnership with Volocopter, one of the leading operators in the UAM sector, we have set a challenging timeline, aiming at launching the first commercial routes between Fiumicino Airport and Rome city centre by 2024 – in time for the 2025 jubilee, which will represent a great opportunity for Rome and Italy to ‘restart’.

We are confident that the transformation processes we are implementing will lead to solid, long-term positive outcomes. Despite the negative scenario and the losses faced in 2020 and 2021 (a year that closed with an operating loss of €45.9 million and with a net loss of €38.0 million) Aeroporti di Roma has never stopped investing. In the 2020 to 2021 period, investments amounted to about €300 million, due to the expansion and enhancement of the Roman airport system – concerning the expansion works of Terminal 1, the completion of the APOC Single Control Room and the restructuring of Terminal 3 – and we will invest a further €250 million throughout 2022.

Although we are aware that the path to full recovery will be complex, we strongly believe that there are the conditions for 2022 to be a year of resumption for air traffic: summer 2022 will bring new prospects to Rome’s airport system – with Qantas returning to Fiumicino Airport with its first direct connection between continental Europe and Australia, and a great dynamism of American carriers, which are planning an unprecedented summer season, with overall capacity 15 per cent higher compared to the same period in 2019.

This trend provides great motivation for us to keep improving our strategy and services, always maintaining our standards of excellence, further stimulated by the international awards and recognitions we have received since the beginning of the pandemic – e.g., Skytrax’s five stars for the measures implemented during the pandemic, UNTWO’s Certification for Sustainable Leadership, Level 4+ of the Airport Carbon Accreditation, ACI Europe’s Digital Transformation Award; and ACI’s Airport Service Quality Award for the fifth consecutive time – which make Aeroporti di Roma proud to play a crucial role in the development of the economic chain linked to tourism and transport at national level.

Aeroporti di RomaMarco Troncone, Chief Executive Officer of Aeroporti di Roma, joined the airport at the end of 2011, initially dealing with strategic planning and relations with the Board, subsequently becoming Chief Financial Officer and co-ordinating the assets of the group and airport development strategies in Italy and abroad. Troncone was appointed CEO of ADR in April 2020. He is also the CEO of Azzurra Aeroporti SpA and the Vice President of Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur, as well as a Board Member of Aeroporto di Bologna SpA.

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