Italian airport traffic up 8% in November; Bologna and Bergamo lead the way

Image: Ryanair
One man’s meat is another man’s poison: Ryanair adverts in the Italian press make capital out of the recent Naples rubbish collection issues. The airline can also continue contributing to growth in Italy, as the recent threat to suspend all of its Italian domestic operations (39 routes) later this month has now been called off.

Airport data from Assaeroporti shows that passenger numbers in November at Italian airports were up 8% to just over nine million. While this sounds promising the reality is that compared with November 2007 traffic is still down 5.5%, exactly the same as it was in October.

Of the 13 busiest Italian airports all except Pisa reported year-on-year growth in November with Bologna (+27.3%), Milan Bergamo (+15.3%) and Rome Ciampino (+11.1%) all reporting double-digit growth.

Chart: Italian growth 09
Source: Assaeroporti

The growth of Bologna can be attributed to the growing Ryanair presence at the airport. It became a Ryanair base in October 2008 with the launch of six routes, which was increased to 21 during the summer season. This winter saw the addition of Bratislava and Seville to the network while the summer 2010 season will see further new routes to Bordeaux, Malaga and Wroclaw.

Among smaller airports reporting significant growth in November were Trapani (+184.5%), Brindisi (+42.8%), Pescara (+40.0%), Bari (+21.3%) and Cagliari (+18.0%). Across all airports domestic traffic was up 14.3% to 4.23 million while international traffic was up a more modest 3.1% to 4.75 million.

Ryanair, which has been growing its presence in the Italian market, recently announced that it would be suspending all Italian domestic operations as a result of the Italian authorities’ decision to change the rules regarding what is (and is not) acceptable proof of identity on domestic routes. It has now been announced that  an agreement with the authorities has been reached and the threat has been withdrawn. According to OAG data, Ryanair currently operates 39 Italian domestic routes accounting for over 600 weekly departures.

Year to date traffic down 3.2%

For the period January to November total passenger traffic is down 3.2% compared with 2008. Among the top 13 airports four have reported growth during the first 11 months. Bologna (+12.3%), Milan Bergamo (+10.8%), Pisa (+1.5%) and Rome Ciampino (+0.2%) have managed to increase passenger numbers while Milan Linate (down 11.5%) and Verona (down 10.5%) have suffered the most in 2009.

Chart: VLT
Source: Assaeroporti

If passenger numbers in 2009 are compared with those of 2007 (before the economic downturn and reshaping of Alitalia and Air One) the ‘best’ month for Italian airports was the peak holiday month of August when traffic was down just 0.1%, suggesting that the demand for holidays to Italy has remained robust. In September, October and November traffic in 2009 was down between 5.3% and 5.5% versus 2007.


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