July & August 2023

The Five Minute Feature

The Heart @ Bologna Airport strategy

As part of the 2023 ACI EUROPE Best Airport Awards, the trophy for excellence in Human Resources and leadership went to Aeroporto di Bologna. The Italian airport impressed the judging panel with the perfect alignment of its human management strategy and business strategy, creating a positive synergy between the two. The airport’s Sustainability Plan comprises a people-centric pillar, emphasising HR initiatives with a multi-faceted approach incorporating training, mobility care, diversity, equality, well-being, and other key issues.

In this edition of the Five Minute Feature, we sat down with Marco Verga, Aeroporto di Bologna’s HR Director, and the ACI EUROPE HR & Leadership Forum Vice-Chair to learn more about the airport’s award-winning approach.


Airport “Guglielmo Marconi” of Bologna S.p.A. is the company that manages the infrastructure of Bologna Airport. The average number of employees for the year 2022 was 505, of which 47% were female and 53% were male. Beyond its own structure, the company operates in the much wider and complex context of the airport community, made up of approximately 3,000 employees.

Aeroporto di Bologna’s business strategy identifies two overarching guidelines that represent a continuous reference for company activities: Maximise Financial Performance and Performing Sustainable Corporation. They lay on four basic pillars that constitute the framework for the future development of the company: Connect, Develop, Experience and Care.

Aeroporto di Bologna is committed to issues related to sustainability, taking into account the leading role that Bologna Airport plays in influencing its ecosystem. Within the context of growing attention and urgency around sustainability and climate change issues, Aeroporto di Bologna wanted to strengthen the relevance of sustainability, introducing it as a transversal dimension of its strategy. Bologna Airport strongly believes in the values of sustainability as a strategic lever in the airport system’s development.

The company’s commitment is based on three central ESG pillars: Environmental sustainability (Planet)Social sustainability (People), and Economic sustainability (Prosperity).

To help us achieve our sustainable development goals, Bologna Airport has implemented a Sustainability Plan that includes concrete actions to mitigate environmental impacts and protect natural resources, improve the quality of life and well-being of the surrounding community, and provide safe and inclusive workplaces.
The ambition is to create an increasingly sustainable airport for everyone: the local area, our passengers, the airport community our partners, and obviously all the airport staff. For us, a sustainable airport strives daily to:

  • improve the quality of life and well-being of the surrounding community;
  • create new job opportunities;
  • offer employees a safe and inclusive workplace;
  • preserve natural resources and protect biodiversity;
  • use natural resources conscientiously, apply circular economy principles, and protect biodiversity;
  • concretely contribute to the fight against climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • dialogue with citizens, local partners and all stakeholders.

People play a fundamental role at every level

In this strategic context driven by social responsibility, the company aims to enhance its workforce and establish an organisational culture able to respond to the continuous evolution of market demands and support people in carrying out their work.

Regarding our passengers: identity and passion for service quality are key commitments for Bologna Airport in the development of its business. Individual identities and abilities in offering the highest level of customer service are essential factors for the success of our Airport in facing current and future challenges.

To create an increasingly sustainable airport for everyone, Bologna Airport is committed to supporting its employees in their work and to building an organisation responding to the evolution of market demands. Furthermore, Bologna Airport has adopted an Ethics Code aimed at all employees and provides guidelines to create a corporate climate of reciprocal trust and respect, transparency, and truthfulness of information.

About our gender policies, Aeroporto di Bologna has been the first airport management company in Italy to obtain Gender Equality Certification according to the new UNI/PDR125:2022.

This is why the airport ensures fair treatment and equality between genders and promotes diversity and inclusion within a corporate and local community context. Our policies have the aim of offering all employees equal professional opportunities and removing all obstacles to their professional development. Thanks to performance-related pay policies, Bologna Airport’s gender pay gap is in favour of women at 0.6%.

We also promote training activities and the adoption of ‘best practices’, as far as full and productive employment and equal opportunities. We strongly believe in the importance of corporate training in ensuring the success of the airport and moving the business forward. The annual Training Plan incorporates managerial and technical training, which is often mandatory and subject to deadlines, setting out a comprehensive overview of all training activities foreseen for the year.

Our welfare & well-being program is another key element of the provisions we made for our staff. In order to safeguard corporate well-being, we have built a solid welfare system over the years, which forms part of the ‘generative bargaining’ characterising relations with social partners. The welfare platform and all its services are focused on offering forms of reconciliation between work and the private lives of individuals. The main pillars of the Aeroporto di Bologna welfare platform consist of:

  • Income Support
  • Supplementary Pension
  • Work-Life Balance

There are also numerous initiatives promoted in the area of health and social security, also thanks to specific agreements reached together with corporate trade unions.

The Municipality of Bologna, the Metropolitan City of Bologna, Bologna Airport, and trade unions signed an agreement in which it is recognised that the parties attach paramount importance to the issue of safety at work and the protection of workers’ health. Following some cases of physical aggression by passengers against airport staff, an addendum to the protocol was signed in July 2022 which states that a dialogue has begun between the airport and the trade unions in order to identify some solutions and corrective measures to the situation with the support of the Prefecture of Bologna, ENAC and the police forces present at the airport.

Bologna Airport supports work-life balance with a number of initiatives. A framework agreement was established with trade unions to allow remote work in the post-pandemic period. Employees can also start their working day between 8 am and 11 am, they need to take a 45-minute lunch break during working hours and have the option of taking overtime or extra hours in exchange for additional annual leave, and the possibility to take leave for specialist medical examinations or study leave.

With the aim to mitigate environmental impacts and protect natural resources, we’re encouraging and enabling employees’ use of more sustainable, alternative modes of transportation. The annual multi-modal travel pass, which is based on a MaaS (Mobility as a Service) model, allows Bologna Airport employees and members of the airport community to use the People Mover (monorail connecting airport and central railway station), urban and suburban buses, metropolitan trains and electric carsharing in Bologna with just one ticket, which costs only slightly more than a monthly travel pass and half the price of a cup of coffee per working day.

Another working group where Bologna Airport is involved together with other companies and institutions of the territory is ReteSmart-BO dedicated to Remote Working, to exchange experience and best practices about smart working methods. Some proposals of the Bologna Airport are not addressed exclusively to the company’s employees: one of the objectives of the plan, is to increase awareness and engage the whole airport community with regard to wellness, Bologna Airport also signed important agreements with trade unions’ representatives having in mind the whole airport community.

It is also important to mention a “Memorandum of Understanding” the airport signed with the territorial institutions dedicated to the promotion of Accessible Tourism and the protection of disabled people. Bologna Airport is strongly committed to removing architectural barriers and providing services and assistance to all passengers with reduced mobility.

Marco, a graduate of Communication Sciences, began his career at the University of Turin’s press office. He later joined the HR Department of the Dutch IT company Getronics. He progressed at Sagat-Turin Airport, eventually becoming Head of Management, Development, and Organization. Since 2016, he has been the Director of People Development & Organisation at Guglielmo Marconi Bologna Airport – the seventh busiest in Italy with 9 million passengers and 550 employees. He’s been active in Assaeroporti’s HR group since 2009, played a role in national contract negotiations, and is Vice President of AIDP Emilia Romagna. Also, he’s Vice Chair of the ACI EUROPE Leadership & HR Forum and was honoured with an ACI Recognition Award in 2021 for his HR contributions.