Positive trend in freight and passenger traffic in the North East in 2021

The Chamber System is increasingly committed to economic growth, also thanks to the infrastructural development of tangible and intangible networks

Economy - published on 14 April 2022

Source: Unioncamere Veneto press office
President Pozza: the economic recovery of 2021 has led to an increase in the flow of people and goods in the main nodes and infrastructures of the North East, recovering pre-Covid levels.
Unfortunately, today, in the drama we are living through, everything has relapsed into uncertainty.
Venice, 13 April 2022 – In 2021 the traffic flows of goods and people passing through the nodes and infrastructures of the Northeast started again, with a strong rebound compared to 2020,
exceeding pre-Covid levels for the movement of goods. This is the trend that emerged from the activities of the Northeast Observatory on Transport, Infrastructure and Logistics (TRAIL
trail.unioncamereveneto.it) of Unioncamere Veneto. Unfortunately, today, in the drama we are experiencing
linked to the continuing pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, the strong resilience of the Veneto region is still at stake in a context of great ‘uncertainty. Among the sectors most affected by a
context of fear and uncertainty are logistics and transport, which have had to face higher costs due to high energy prices. To date, it is difficult to predict the dynamics of the Italian economy
as the various key variables are constantly evolving. In particular, Italian exports will undergo a heavy slowdown in 2022 (+2.8%), after the excellent 2021. In addition, exports of services will
remain weak, due to losses in the travel and transport sectors.
The data we have recorded – says Mario Pozza, President of Unioncamere Veneto – show a clear recovery of all flows, especially of goods, as an effect of growth of
exceptional intensity of the Italian economy and the Northeast. The outlook for 2022 remains very uncertain, and other obstacles to economic and tourist recovery have been added: the high cost of
energy, which is pushing up the production costs of companies and squeezing the purchasing power of families; inflation, which has risen significantly in recent months, driven by higher prices for
raw materials, supply bottlenecks and a recovery in consumer demand; and finally, the risks arising from military escalation in Ukraine.
Veneto plays an important role in the North-East, with a demand for mobility (employees, enterprises, population) that weighs about 42% in the macro-area and is concentrated in the central
area of the regional territory, the area with the greatest infrastructural development as an obvious consequence of the orography of the territory. The regional territory is also located in a
privileged position in the European transport networks, since it is crossed by 3 Core Network Corridors that trace the North-South and East-West routes and intersect in the nodes of Verona and
Padua. From the economic point of view, Veneto is the third Italian region in terms of GDP and its exports account for 40% of the value produced in the region. In 2021 Veneto’s foreign trade
totalled 123.6 billion Euro (12.9% of the national total and 43.4% of the North East) with a positive balance of about 17 billion. In 2021 Veneto exports grew by +16.7% compared to 2020 and +7.8%
compared to 2019. Due to the pandemic, between 2019 and 2020, exports decreased in almost all provinces, with the exception of the province of Rovigo (+31.1%, due to increased trade in medicines
and pharmaceutical preparations), but the province of Verona recovered the most in 2021 compared to 2019 (+12.3%). 60% of foreign trade is directed towards the EU27 (post Brexit). At global level,
the top 5 recipient countries of Venetian exports are: Germany (14%), France (11%), United States (9%), United Kingdom (5%) and Spain (5%). The mode of transport most used in regional exports is
road transport (57.1%), almost the only one used towards EU countries (95.2%), followed by sea transport (27.8%); rail transport is marginal (1.5%). Machinery and equipment was the largest item of
Venetian exports in 2021 (18.7%). Other important sectors are textiles (15.3%) and metal products (11.2%).
According to the latest available data, in 2021 the total volume of vehicle traffic per kilometre on the motorway network in the Northeast increased on almost all routes considered, due to
the sustained growth in heavy vehicle traffic. In the total calculation of vehicles recorded since the beginning of the year, 16.3 billion vehicle/km were recorded on the North-Eastern toll
motorway network, about 3 billion more than in 2020 (which is about +22% in percentage terms, while the comparison with the pre-pandemic period, relating to the year 2019, still shows a negative
result of -12.4%). More specifically, light vehicles (11 billion vehicle-km) were much higher than in 2020, with a growth of +25%, due to the restrictions on territorial travel that were in force
at that time, while heavy vehicles (5.3 billion vehicle-km), which were not subject to major traffic restrictions during the pandemic, saw a smaller but still double-digit increase of +16%. The
greatest overall increases were recorded on the A23 Udine-Tarvisio (+32.4%), the A4 Venice-Mestre-Trieste (+26.3%), the A31 Valdastico (+24.8%) and the A4 Brescia-Padua (+23.7%), thanks to a
marked upturn in light traffic. However, this component is still well below pre-pandemic levels (-17.7% compared to 2019, while the heavy component recovers, marking a weak +1%) with differences
between -0.8% on the A31 Valdastico and -22.1% on the A22 Brennero-Verona. Heavy traffic in 2021 reached and exceeded pre-pandemic levels, especially on the A31 Valdastico, the A23
Udine-Tarvisio, the A22 Verona-Modena and the A4 Brescia-Padova.
In 2021, the ports of the Northern Adriatic also recorded a widespread increase in the overall traffic of goods handled compared to the previous year. In particular, the port of Venice
(7th in Italy in terms of number of TEUs and tonnes, included in the European Core Network as a seaport and inland port) closes 2021 with over 24 million tonnes of goods handled, gaining about
1.8 million tonnes (+7.9% in total volumes compared to 2020) and almost reaching pre-pandemic volumes (-3.1% compared to 2019). Growth in 2021 is attributable to the dry bulk sector (+30.4%),
such as hard coal and lignites linked to national energy supplies, and general cargo (+5%), with the transit of metallurgical products. The container sector, on the other hand, continued to
decline, losing more than 15 thousand TEU compared to 2020 (-2.9%), a figure conditioned by the increase in maritime freight rates and the balance between full containers handled in imports and
exports during the year. As expected, there was a significant increase in ferry passenger traffic (+58.3%) and cruises (+460%), which remained practically static in 2020. With the partial
recovery of the schedule and the solutions identified for the temporary berths, from January to December 2021 the number of cruise passengers amounted to almost 32 thousand. Last year, the port
of Trieste handled 55.4 million tonnes of cargo, recovering a total of 1.2 million tonnes compared to 2020, with a growth of +2.2% on an annual basis (and a decrease of -10.7% on the pre-pandemic
year of 2019). Thanks mainly to the good performance of general cargo (+8.2%), the Motorway of the Sea with Turkey reached an all-time record with 763 touches (+34%) compared to 569 in the
previous year. The container sector decreased, losing over 18,000 TEU compared to 2020 (-2.4%). The liquid bulk sector (which accounts for 68% of port traffic) remained almost stable compared to
2020 and decreased by -14% compared to 2019. Passenger traffic showed a strong recovery thanks to the cruise sector (which reached 90 thousand passengers) following the diversion of some cruise
ships from Venice.
The North East airports (Venice, Treviso, Verona and Trieste) closed 2021 with 6.5 million total passengers, up 43.3% on 2020, but more than two thirds (-66.4%) below pre-pandemic levels
and the cargo sector with more than 46 thousand tonnes recorded +12% growth on 2020, but volumes are about one third lower than 2019 levels. Specifically, in 2021 the Venice airport gained
+22.8% in passengers and +14.1% in aircraft movements on an annual basis, thanks to the expansion of the Volotea and EasyJet summer offer as well as the resumption of operations of many
carriers such as Aegean Airlines, Tunisair, Air Arabia Maroc, Eurowings. The cargo sector also increased with +7.5%. Excellent performance for Treviso airport thanks to the reopening of the
Ryanair base. Verona airport also made a strong recovery, with passengers up 40.2% and aircraft movements up 31.7%. The Verona airport expects to reach, during the current year, a passenger
flow similar to 2019 thanks to the activation of new domestic and international destinations by the carriers Ryanair, Volotea, Eurowings, Wizz Air, ITA Airways, Neos Air. The cargo sector also
recorded a significant recovery. Finally, the Trieste airport recorded a +66.8% increase in passengers compared to 2020 and +20.7% in air movements, determined in particular by domestic tourism
in July and August 2021.
In Veneto there are 5 freight villages: Verona Quadrante Europa (1st in Italy for combined traffic volumes, with over 7 thousand train pairs/year, and recognised as one of the best
freight villages in Europe) and Padua, included in the European Core Network; Rovigo, included in the European Comprehensive Network; Venice and Portogruaro. In particular, the freight villages
of Verona and Padua closed 2021 with strong growth, exceeding even pre-pandemic volumes. At the Verona freight village last year over 30 million tonnes of goods were handled, of which almost
8.5 million tonnes by rail (+9.6% compared to 2020). Trains/year handled were about 16,000 thanks to connections with ports on the Baltic Sea, German industrial areas (Munich, Cologne, Bremen),
and Dutch, Belgian and Scandinavian logistics platforms, which guaranteed about 1,000 trains/month even in the most restrictive months of the lockdown. Intermodal traffic in Padua Interport in
2021 also grew by +10% compared to 2020 and by 27.5% compared to 2019 (touching the historical record of 400 thousand TEU). These performances were possible thanks to the increase in the
transport of semi-trailers by rail, favoured in part by the efficiency of the new gantry cranes and in part by the blocking of borders even between EU countries caused by the health emergency
and the restrictions on heavy vehicles along the Brenner axis.
The chamber system is increasingly committed to the economic growth of the territories also thanks to the infrastructural development of tangible and intangible networks. In particular,
Unioncamere Veneto, with the collaboration of the 5 regional Chambers of Commerce and the technical support of Uniontrasporti – President Pozza further explained – is actively
participating in the country’s recovery through the Infrastructure Programme (www.programmainfrastrutture.unioncamere.it), financed by the 2019-2020 Equalization Fund of Unioncamere Italiana, which involves a
total of 19 regional territories throughout Italy. The aim of the Infrastructure Programme is to further strengthen the role of the Chambers of Commerce and Regional Unions and enable them to
actively participate in the country’s economic recovery, by providing analyses, intervention hypotheses, and operational and concrete contributions to the development of tangible and
intangible networks that can support and work in synergy with the work of the Region. The project, which started in July 2021 and is expected to end in September 2022, wants to focus on
listening to territorial entrepreneurial systems and to enhance the vocation of individual territories, but keeping in mind an organic regional vision, with the assumption that infrastructure
strategies have at least a regional value. In Veneto all 5 Chambers of Commerce have completed the first phase of listening to and discussing with the territory. The priorities emerged at local
level will be included in a summary document, the “White Paper on the infrastructure priorities of Veneto”, which will be shared in a second phase of consultation with the territory. At the
same time, some strategic territorial projects for the regional territory are being developed and, in collaboration with the Chamber PIDs, an awareness-raising process for SMEs is being
launched in order to stimulate and foster the growth of digital culture.

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