Spotting - Bergamo Orio al Serio (BGY/LIME)
Bergamo Orio al Serio - Caravaggio International Airport
IATA code: BGY
ICAO code: LIME
Airport website: www.sacbo.it
Bergamo Orio al Serio airport is located 5km South of Bergamo’s city centre and 55km to the East of Milan. The airport was built in 1937; it had little traffic for decades, but at the end of the 90s it started to grow quickly after being given the status of International Airport. It was also helped by its geographical position. Indeed, the airport is situated in a highly densely populated area, close to many important touristic attractions, such as the Alps, ski areas, lakes, and cultural and commercial centres (e.g Milan, Bergamo, Brescia). Since 2000, Orio al Serio has seen its passengers grow thanks to the expansion of Ryanair and other low-cost carriers. Bergamo is now the most important low-cost airport in Italy. From 1999 to 2005, the number of passengers handled by the airport grew from one million to more than five million. In 2009 the airport of Bergamo became the 4th largest Italian airport, with more than 7 million passengers handled. Orio al Serio is currently the 3rd largest airport in Italy for cargo movements.
Orio al Serio has two runways, both approximately east/west oriented. The main runway (10/28 – 3024 x 45 m) is used for most of the flights: commercial, cargo and business traffic; while the shorter runway (12/30 – 778 x 18 m) is used only by light general aviation aircrafts. The airport has one terminal located to the South and in front of the main runway, with 35 aircraft stands.
HOW TO GET THERE
Orio al Serio is easily accessible thanks to its position and can be reached by different means of transport (please note that the following times may vary depending on traffic conditions):
- By car: from the A4 Milan-Venice motorway, “Seriate” exit then follow signs for Orio al Serio Airport and the passenger terminal.
- By bus: available from Bergamo, Milan and Brescia.
From Bergamo’s bus station, shuttle buses run to the airport every 30 minutes (ATB line 1C). Tickets can be purchased at station kiosk or at the vending machines. The journey takes about 10-15 minutes.
From Milan’s central train station (Milano, stazione Centrale FS) there are two shuttle bus lines each run by a different transport company (Terravision and Autostradale). Tickets can be purchased at the station ticket office or onboard, from the bus driver, without any additional charge. Both lines have their bus stops located at the south side of the station, near the main entrance. Departures every 30 minutes, journey takes 60 minutes.
There is also a bus line leaving every 3-4 hours from Milan’s Lambrate railway station, which takes 60 minutes.
From Brescia CIBA bus station the bus shuttle line to Orio al Serio airport departs every 3-4 hours and takes about 60 minutes.
- By train: Bergamo railway station can be easily reached from Milan (there are frequent services from Milan’s central station), Brescia, Lecco and Cremona. The shuttle bus line can be used to get to the airport from the railway station.
Although the air traffic in Orio al Serio is not as diverse as in other bigger airports, it is somehow very interesting for aviation enthusiasts and photographers.
The most common aircrafts are Boeing 737, Airbus A320 family and regional jets of different airlines, most of which are low-cost carriers. The main airlines flying to and from BGY are Ryanair, Wizz Air, Wind Jet, TUIfly, Air Berlin, Transavia, Carpatair and Alitalia. Furthermore, especially during the summer season and between December and January, there are many chartered flights operated by airlines of various countries (Italy, United Kingdom, Russia, eastern Europe and Mediterranean countries) and in these periods also bigger aircrafts frequently show up at the airport (e.g.: Boeing 757s, 767s, Yakovlevs, Tupolevs).
Orio al Serio has a remarkable importance for cargo flights. There are many of them every day, but almost all of the cargo aircrafts arrive and depart throughout the night, and it is extremely difficult to take pictures of them in the darkness. The majority of cargo flights are operated by DHL with Airbus A300/A310F and Boeing 757F. Also Boeing 767, 737, Fokker F27 and Antonov aircrafts often fly to Orio al Serio. Finally, there is some business/executive traffic. Business-jets are usually parked at the western stands of the apron, while cargo planes can be usually found to the East of the terminal.
The best and most known locations for aircraft spotting in Orio al Serio are two, both of them are easily reachable (but only the first one by public transport). Let’s have a look at them in detail:
1) West parking
The elevated parking lot, to the West of the terminal building was erected in recent times; it is an excellent place where you can watch airplanes. To reach this point by car, you can park the car directly in the elevated parking itself. Reach the terminal and then keep going towards the west parking entrance. For further information about parking fares, check the airport website. You can also park the car in the free parking lot of the Orio Center shopping mall, located in front of the terminal at the opposite side of the motorway. To reach the shopping mall, just follow the signs to the Orio Center (mind the opening hours). From the Orio Center parking, walk westwards along the street between the mall and the motorway, until the pedestrian underpass (see map below). Walk through the underpass under the motorway and, once outside, cross the road to get to the parking lots facing the airport building. To reach the west parking by foot from the terminal (arrivals area), exit the terminal and walk westwards towards the first smaller elevated parking, and keep walking until the stairs of the second, larger, elevated parking lot which is the one you were looking for.
This parking is located right in front of the terminal’s west stands and most of the aircrafts are usually parked here. The height of the parking's elevated floor allows to photograph without the problem of the fence, but there are many obstacles such as light poles, parked vehicles, air stairs, jet-blast grids and photography may be difficult from many points of the parking. From this parking it is possible to see all the western part of the airport and take pictures of airplanes while parked or while they taxi, rotate, climb-out or vacate the runway. This point has a good lighting, because the sun is always behind the photographer. Of course, the sun position must be considered to take advantage of the light conditions: during the morning, it is better to photograph mostly towards the West (for instance with the High City of Bergamo as a background), while in the afternoon towards the East (e.g. aircrafts on the runway) because in that moment the sun light comes from South-West.
GPS coordinates: 45°39'59.80"N, 9°41'41.00"E
Aerial view of spotting-point 1 and elevated parking lot:
2) Grassobbio industrial zone
The second spotting-point is located in the town of Grassobbio, in its industrial zone. It can be reached only by car (see the route in the maps below), following signs for Grassobbio town and continuing towards the industrial zone. After the overbridge above the motorway, the street ends at an intersection: turn right at this point and then take the first left turn. After a short distance the street ends in a parking with a triangular shape. This parking is next to the airport fence, near the taxiway. The fence in this area is quite short but has a thick mesh, so it is better to use a small ladder or something similar in order to get a better view. From this point you can watch the air traffic of the eastern part of the airport: approaches, touchdowns, landings and planes taxiing towards the runway. This place is good for taking pictures both in the morning and in the afternoon. The morning is better for shooting aircrafts on the taxiway because of the light condition.
GPS coordinates: 45°39'50"N, 9°43'10"E
Aerial view of spotting-point 2:
Spotting point 1 (west parking):
Spotting point 2 (Grassobbio):
Thanks to Matteo for his help with the English version of this guide.
(Maps and aerial/satellite pictures from: Google Maps, Google Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth)www.jetaviationphotos.it