Two mayors dealing with the grave reality of Lugano Airport

REACTIONS

Municipalities of Agno and Bioggio sorry for the company’s liquidation, although the relationship has not always been a bed of roses

Discussions continue at the site of Lugano Airport. Taking the floor this time is the Municipality of Agno, which expresses “regret and concern” for the liquidation of the airport management company and “solidarity” with those who suffer the consequences, i.e. the employees (a dozen live in the municipality) and companies (about twenty domiciled) linked more or less directly to airport activities.

Not always a bed of roses

The relations of Agno and other neighbouring municipalities with Lugano Airport, however, go beyond the terms of the press release issued yesterday, unavoidably corporate The stopover has not always been seen just as “an important presence in the region that has generated positive repercussions over the years”. Also, but not only. The archives take us back to 2016, when the Agno Executive filed a precautionary appeal against the construction of two new hangars, deemed essential to breathe life back into Lugano Airport. Hangars that the market always asked for, but which Agno airport has never been able to offer, only the existing ones. It happened for the last time in March, during the healthcare emergency, when some aircraft owners asked and failed to come to Ticino by parking their aircraft in Agno.

Unwanted trucks

What worried the municipality, at the time, was the impact that the construction site would have had, as confirmed by Mayor Thierry Morotti. “We weren’t against the hangars, we always said so. We were afraid of heavy traffic passing through our residential area and we were convinced that there were better solutions to manage the work. The dispute had been rejected by the Federal Administrative Court and the Municipality had given up, but the entrepreneur Dario Kessel did not and the project ended up on the table of the Federal Court, where is remains. Bioggio was also with Agno. “Nothing against the project itself”, said Mayor Eolo Alberti, “but they wanted to do certain work without the involvement of the affected municipalities and this bothered us. The hangars would have invaded Prati Maggiore, beyond the river: it was really too large an undertaking, it didn’t make sense”.

Password: talk to each other

Speaking of “now”, one wonders how the private individuals will act, upon receiving the keys to the airport from the city: the hangars will also be fundamental for them and further discussions with the Municipalities will be needed, whether for the old project or indeed a new one. The discussion then covers other contents (residential, for example) that the new airport managers may need for the financial balance of their strategy (less all the uncertainties that are affecting the aviation market). It’s still early though. Mayor Morotti limits himself to hoping that a possible building development will be sustainable and embedded in the region. Bioggio at ground level is not directly affected, being in the flight path, but Alberti also has a wish: dialogue and collaboration.

A locked door

What if dialogue and collaboration became something more, like the two municipalities owning a shareholding, private entities permitting, in the new management company? This does not seem to be the case, at least for the moment. “We can’t afford it, too many risks for the Municipality”, said Morotti, “Surely we are willing to collaborate in view of a development of the sector”. Ditto Alberti: “We never even talked about it. And now we have to deal with the revenue losses caused by the pandemic”. Agno and Bioggio will therefore wait to know the plans of the new investors (and even before knowing who they’ll be: it’s up to the City of Lugano to choose them). “The private solution is welcome”, said Morotti, “the important thing is that it’s an orderly process”. Regardless of the old disputes, there is regret at the closure of Lugano Airport. Agno, after all, was in favour of help from the City and Canton, to save the company. The same with Bioggio: “We are quick to forget how much the airport has contributed to the economic development of Ticino”, says Alberti. “If our municipality has the revenue it has, credit must also go to the airport: it’s a symbol”. The area’s residents who have always complained about the noise generated by flights will be less saddened. It’s a closed chapter for now. And so is Lugano Airport SA; definitively.

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