General business context

The economies of OECD countries suffered a decline in 2011, while in emerging countries, growth remained strong despite a gradual slowdown. In Europe, the downturn was accentuated in the second half of the year, with a rise in unemployment rates and deteriorating financial conditions for some members3  of the European Union.

Weak global demand did not translate into lower raw material prices, which marched steadily upward throughout the year.

On the other hand, tourism showed an improvement, with worldwide arrivals growing from 939 million travelers in 2010 to 980 million this year. Unlike in 2010, growth in Europe and North America (+5%) outpaced the trend in developing countries (+3.8%)4.

The air transport industry and  the  trend in airport traffic

The air transport industry enjoyed an upturn in 2011, with revenue from passenger traffic up by 10% on the previous year to $ 469bn5.

Passenger traffic increased by a solid 4.9% (from 3.3 billion passengers in 2010 to 3.8 billion), thanks to a 6.2% rise in international traffic, from 1.6 billion passengers the previous year to around 1.7 billion in 2011. This progress reflects the general macroeconomic trend and is split into two phases: healthy passenger growth during the first half of the year, followed by a slowdown in the second6.

Of the 3.8 billion passengers worldwide, western economies still account for more than 60% of the total, with Europe and North America each contributing about 30%. The Asia/Pacific area made up around 27% of all passengers8.

Passengers in North America increased by 2.1% to 1.1 billion, with domestic traffic alone, which accounts for roughly 25% of global traffic, rising by 1.6%.

Europe enjoyed a substantial increase in traffic (+7.3%, or 1.2 billion passengers in 2011), due in part to the flights grounded in 2010 because  of the volcanic eruption in Iceland. Passenger growth in Europe for long-range flights was especially good, partly because  of a shift in tourist traffic from North Africa, due to the political unrest in that area. Within Europe, growth in the countries where the Group’s presence  is strongest came to 5.2% in the UK9 and 6.0% in Spain10.

In Asia, despite the impact of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, traffic was up by 5.5% (1.0 billion passengers in 2011).

Traffic in South America (0.3 billion passengers) progressed by 8.8% thanks to significant economic growth in the area and the expansion of trade with North America and Asia.

Traffic growth in the Middle East was brisk (+7.6%, roughly 0.1 billion passengers) due to competitively priced flights, which make the area popular as a hub for long-range travel.

The trend in motorway traffic

In 2011 there was a decline in motorway traffic across Europe. In Italy, the Group’s largest motorway market, traffic was down by 1.1%11 and gradually worsened throughout the year. The trend was influenced by the macroeconomic context and the price of fuel at the pump, which reached record levels in 2011 (+13.9% for gasoline)12.

Traffic on the US motorways served by the Group decreased by 1%13 (January to December), but picked up in the fourth quarter thanks to a drop in gas prices (traffic for the first nine months: –1.4%; for the final quarter: +0.1%).


3     Source: OECD, Economic Outlook, Volume 2011-2012
4     Source: UNWTO, World Tourism Barometer, Volume 10, January 2012
5     Source: IATA, Industry Financial Forecast – December 2011
6     Source: ACI PaxFlash and FreightFlash – December 2011
7     OECD countries excluding Japan
8     Source: ACI, PaxFlash and FreightFlash – December 2011
9     Source: BA A, Manchester Airport and Gatwick Airport, January-December 2011
10   Source: AENA, January-December 2011
11   Source: AISCAT, January-December 2011
12   Source: Federazione Italiana Gestori Impianti Stradali Carburanti (
13   Source: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), stretches of road served by HMS Host: January-December 2011