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Economic overview

Economic growth re-emerged in 2017, although was not accompanied by significant inflation, which remains weak. 

The short-term outlook is favourable, although risks remain for the global economy in view of possible increased volatility on the financial markets on the back of an unexpected heightening of geo-political tensions and uncertainty regarding economic policies which may impact household and business confidence.

Despite the reaching of an agreement during the first phase of the United Kingdom’s negotiations for exiting the European Union, the uncertainty regarding future relations between the two economies remains heightened. The outcome of the latest meeting between the North American Free Trade Agreement members (NAFTA) for its review introduces a degree of unpredictability with regards to future international trade agreements. The effects of the United States tax reform approved on December 20 last (Tax Cuts And Jobs Act), reducing tax rates for households and businesses, may however act as a stimulus for global growth. 

In the third quarter of the year, economic activity in the major advanced economies continued to expand, while the recovery in train from the first half of 2017 continued for the emerging economies. Global trade grew 3.5%, with strong imports in the Eurozone and the emerging economies of Asia (excluding China).

Inflation in the major advanced economies remains contained, while remaining moderate in the major emerging economies.

According to the OECD’s November forecast, global GDP was 3.6% and is expected to grow slightly in 2018 (reaching 3.7%).

The pick up in global growth over the last two years appears to have been driven mainly by the advanced economies.

From the end of September 2017, the upward trend of oil prices continued, driven by buoyant global demand and the maintenance of the agreement to contain supply among the major oil producing countries. The gradual reabsorption of global oil stocks and geo-political tensions in the Middle East and in Venezuela also contributed to this rise.  At the end of November last, OPEC and Russia announced a further extension of the agreement until 2018. Rising prices gave a fresh boost to US non-conventional energy production, increasing in November last to historic highs. 

In the Eurozone, growth continued at a sustained pace, particularly driven by overseas demand. According to the latest Eurosystem GDP forecast, growth of 2.3% is indicated (2.4% in 2017).

Deflationary expectations have reduced, however inflation remains low (1.4% in December); the baseline component remains weak, slowed by still moderate salary growth for many zone economies. The Board of the ECB recalibrated its monetary policy instruments, while however maintaining highly expansive monetary conditions going forward which remain necessary for sustained inflation at levels lower than but close to 2%.

The Italian economy picked up in Q3 2017 on the back of both domestic and overseas demand.  The most recent economic indicators point to continued GDP expansion of 0.4% in the fourth quarter, supported by an increase in the value added by industry and services.  Manufacturing activity continued to grow in the fourth quarter of 2017, although to a lesser degree than the major expansion of the summer.  Business confidence remained high across the main sectors of the economy, while the demand outlook of businesses further improved for industry and services, with investment conditions confirmed as highly favourable. 

According to the workforce preliminary figures, the number of those employed rose slightly in the October-November period, while contractual salaries were still contained, although the first signs of a gradual improvement emerged.

Although producer prices increased and some favourable signs on salaries emerged, consumer inflation remains weak (1.0% in December). 

Air transport and airports

Global air transport performance - 2017

The global passenger traffic performance in 2017, on a sample of 1,056 airports, indicated growth of 6.4 points compared to 2016.

The market is growing in all areas; Europe registered the highest increase in percentage terms (+8.5%), followed by Asia (+7.8%), Africa (+5.9%) – recovering from last year, the Middle East (+4.7%), Central/South America (+4.3%) and North America (+3.5%).

The world rankings classify Atlanta in North America, an area that handles 1.7 billion passengers, as the top airport for passenger traffic served (104 million passengers, including 92 million linked to domestic traffic). In second place is Beijing (96 million passengers, including 74 million for domestic destinations) in Asia, an area that carries 1.9 billion passengers. In third place is Dubai (88 million passengers served), which represents the Middle East’s main hub with a 36% market share on a total of 242 million passengers.

At global level (on a sample of 711 airports), cargo traffic increased 7.9 percentage points compared to 2016, with 100.9 million tonnes handled. Cargo business also performed well in each region analysed. Asia, which moves the greatest quantity of cargo (37 million tonnes), reports growth of 8.5 percentage points compared to 2016; Europe registered +8.7%, North America +7.3% and the Middle East +6.0%. Africa, while moving a modest quantity of cargo, shows signs of recovery with a growth of 12.4%.
In the ranking reported by ACI World, Malpensa places 44th in terms of the quantity of cargo handled among the leading airports in the cargo sector (91 airports transporting at least 200 thousand tons of cargo).

Global air traffic 20171

GLOBAL AIR TRAFFIC 2017 - passengers  GLOBAL AIR TRAFFIC 2017 - Cargo

Key: AFR (Africa), ASP (Asia Pacific), EUR (Europe), LAC (Latin America), MEA (Middle East), NAM (North America).
1 Source: ACI World (Pax Flash & Freight Flash).

European airport performances – 20172 

Overall growth in passenger traffic for European airports associated with ACI Europe was 6.2% when compared to 2016, with 1.1 billion passengers served.  

The main hubs3, representing 36% of total passenger traffic in associated airports, grew 4.8% on last year; highlighted are Amsterdam (+7.7%), Zurich (+6.3%), Frankfurt (+6.1%) and Madrid (+5.9%). Malpensa, with a growth of 14.2% over the previous year, stands out among the airports that handle 'point-to-point' traffic, followed by Brussels (+13.6%), Manchester (+8.6%), Barcelona (+7.1%) and Dublin (+6.0%); Copenhagen re-confirmed last year’s results, while Berlin registered a decline (-3.7%).

Cargo traffic increased 7.2%, with a total of 11.9 million tonnes handled.

Among the top five European airports4 in terms of freight volumes, Frankfurt is first with over 2.1 million tonnes, followed by Paris Charles de Gaulle with 2.0 million tonnes, Amsterdam with 1.8 million and London Heathrow with 1.7 million. Malpensa airport ranks fifth in terms of cargo volumes handled (576.5 thousand tonnes) and in the top five, it ranks as second airport in terms of percentage growth (+7.4%) after London Heathrow (+10.2%).

2017 Italian airport traffic performance5

Air traffic for the 38 airports associated with Assaeroporti is in continuous growth; in fact, 175.4 million passengers (+6.4%) were reported for 2017 - 10.7 million more than the previous year. This result is due to growth in international traffic to both EU (+8.5%) and non-EU (+7.9%) countries and the increase in domestic traffic (+3.0%).

1.6 million aircraft movements (+3.2%) and 1.1 million tonnes of cargo (+9.2%) were achieved. 

Rome Fiumicino, followed by Milan Malpensa and Bergamo, are listed in descending order in the ranking of Italian airports in terms of passenger numbers.

The Rome airport system reported a slight decrease (-0.6% compared to 2016), with 46.9 million passengers served. The Lombardy airport system saw growth of 9.4% to reach 44 million passengers, equal to 25% of the national total: Milan Malpensa contributed with 22.2 million, Linate 9.5 million and Orio al Serio airport 12.3 million. In the north-east, Venice and Treviso carried 13.4 million passengers (8% of the national total) and in Central Italy, Pisa and Florence 7.9 million passengers (4% of the national total). In Apulia, the airport system (Bari, Brindisi, Foggia and Taranto) served 7 million (4% of the national total), while Sicily (Catania, Comiso, Lampedusa, Palermo and Trapani) and Sardinia (Alghero, Cagliari and Olbia) served 16.9 million (10% of the national total) and 8.3 million (5% of the national total), respectively.


2 Source ACI Europe Rapid Data Exchange Programme (42 associated airports), Passenger arrivals+departures+transits 
3 Airport hubs: Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Zurich, Rome Fiumicino, Madrid and London Heathrow
4 Excluded: Luxembourg, Cologne and Liege which generate higher volumes of cargo transport than Malpensa, since not included in ACI Europe’s Rapid Data Exchange Programme
5 Source Assaeroporti (commercial aviation + general aviation)