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End of recession? A brighter outlook for the transport sector


Positive figures from Confetra’s memo on the sector’s Economy.

Paolo Castiglia

Is the recession over for the transport sector? Many indicators seem to point in that direction. But now the traditional memo on the economy by Confetra’s studies centre, for the year 2014, confirms this. The Italian General Confederation of Transport and Logistics shows how the positive trend of freight traffic recorded in the first half of 2014 was confirmed in the second half, setting year-on-year positive data both in terms of traffic and revenues in almost all sectors and modes of transport.


But before considering the performance of each individual sectors, there is an even more significant overall picture to be viewed.

Since the recession was of a financial nature, with companies finding it difficult to access credit and, all too often, to honor payment deadlines, it’s rather positive to see that the average collection time has dropped from 87 days in 2013 to 79 in 2014. Still too many of course, but a cut of more than a week certainly is an important signal. Much in the same light, payment defaults, which in 2013 accounted for 2.4%, were halved to 1.2%.

Finally, a climate of renewed confidence is also important, as only 7% of all interviewed companies and sector operators still predicted a further decline, while 41% expect a significant growth around the corner. As far as each transport segment is concerned, the best performances came from the smallest of them, namely air cargo, which recorded a sharp 6.7% increase in freight load, a + 4.1% in the number of shipments and a +4.7% in turnover, soaring towards pre-crisis figures.


On the other hand, a sharp decline was recorded by the sea transport segment with trans-shipments down by -4.1% and liquid bulk -6.4%. A sign that competition throughout the Mediterranean is starting to leave its marks and the long awaited reforms feel ever more urgent. By contrast, road haulage is leading the way to recovery, as fully loaded road carriers are up by 2.1% and groupage recorded an encouraging +1.3%, a sign that not only industry and trade are moving larger quantities of goods, but also that, on the domestic market - which has suffered the most over the last few years - consumption and business investment are finally showing a positive trend.

On the whole, railway cargo too shows encouraging, though little, signs of recovery (+ 1.4%), and here the credit goes to the diversification of the offer, with carriers other than Trenitalia consistently eroding market share.

Worthy of mention is the growth of the courier sector (+ 3.8% in quantity and + 3.5% in turnover), driven mainly by the e-commerce segment, which grew again in the double digits (+ 17%), doubling its value in just four years. The positive trend in freight traffic is confirmed by the traffic / turnover ratio, now substantially in a balance, a sign that even profit margins are back. Speaking about ​​international shipping, in addition to air traffic, road transport has grown too (+ 2.5% in quantity and 2.8% in sales volume) as well as sea traffic (+ 1.9% in quantity and 1.7% in turnover). Positive values, according to Confetra, are also confirmed by data coming from alpine borders (with the Brenner pass up by + 3.8% now ranking near Mont Blanc) and from airports, where Malpensa with a + 9.1% strengthens its leadership, as opposed to a more stagnant Fiumicino (-0.3%). Motorway traffic too is finally growing, after a hat-trick of negative years. Noteworthy, in the end, the growth of container traffic in the port of Genoa (+ 9.3%) and Ro-Ro cargo in Livorno (+ 7.8%).

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