Genoa – 2017 WAS not good, partly because of P&O Cruise’s ships leaving Genoa, but 2018 is expected to be a record year; this is the situation at Genoa’s Cristoforo Colombo Airport, according to its president, Paolo Odone. The departure of P&O has meant the loss of 50,000 charter passengers, which resulted in the airport’s final balance sheet being down 1.5%. It is a sign that what should be one of the airport’s strong points, that is, its synergy with the passenger port, is struggling to take shape. “But if we consider only non-chartered flights,” Odone points out, “the airport’s passengers grew by 3% in 2017.”
What do you predict for 2018?
“We are going from having 26 destinations in 2017 to more than 40 in 2018, which means 24 percent growth from 1.27 million to 1.57 million passengers. It must be added that ENAC has made a programme agreement with the airport to increase its resources, from €5 per passenger to €11, which has aroused the interest of the airlines. Volotea, for example, is an enthusiastic supporter of Genoa, and has two planes based here, which benefits the airport’s business because of its requirements for supplies and services”.
It is a benefit for the balance sheet.
“Yes, although, despite the Alitalia crisis, the airport has always closed its balance sheets in the black, and that’s without support from the local authority. Bear in mind that the Region of Sicily provides 34 million to its airports. But I read in Il Secolo XIX that the president of Liguria, Giovanni Toti, is working on providing significant support to the airport.”
What is new in 2018?
“The most important new development is Easyjet providing flights to Bristol, Manchester and London. And then Berlin, which is important for both businesses and for incoming cruise passengers. A Hamburg route is also being considered with Costa Crociere. A much appreciated service is Volotea’s to Lamezia Terme. The only current negative is the slow pace of uptake on the Frankfurt connection, which launched in 2017. In 2018, traffic growth was 15% in January and 5% in February, but we also had 35,000 empty seats. We expect this year to be the turning point, as a hub both for business travel and to leisure destinations such as Lampedusa and Mykonos”.
Do you expect this to be a lasting turn around?
“Airlines are also realising the potential of the smaller airports. If prices are cheap, people decide to take trips that they would not otherwise have taken.”
What remains to be done?
“What is really holding Liguria back in terms of services is accessibility. And there have been paradoxical episodes, such as the Sestri bus that did not pick up passengers with luggage because it had no room. Mayor Marco Bucci got angry, and there is now a new bus that has room for the luggage. Now I have told the mayor that if the routes increase this summer from 26 to 40, AMT will have to reinforce its services, otherwise tourists will be left stranded. Meanwhile, we have confidence in the new Erzelli-Airport station, a railway improvement which Minister Graziano Delrio has promised several times. Both the airport and the Erzelli Hill will be connected to this new station by cable car.”
What about privatisation?
“The concession will expire in 2027, and no investor is interested in a concession that only lasts nine years. It is now suspended, because the offers we have received are too low, and the Court of Auditors would dispute them.
How is the cargo sector doing?
“It has always been a mystery why an airport that has the unique characteristic of being located in a port does not see significant exchanges of goods between ships and aircraft. We recently received a delegation of major international freight forwarders who have said they are interested in using the airport. We have warehouses that are only half utilised, with the possibility of further enlarging them. The large Antonov plane that landed a few days ago shows that we have the infrastructure to accommodate any sort of cargo. The private general aviation sector, which is very active in the summer, also deserves attention. A synergy had started up with Marina Genova Aeroporto before the Monti government destroyed the yachting industry. We must rebuild this relationship.”
The economic policy plan proposal now being drafted by the 5-Star Movement in Italy will be focused on transport infrastructure and renewable energy, particularly with regard to development in the poorer southern parts of the country, as revealed by party deputy Laura Castelli in an interview with Reuters.
In addition, the plan will also cancel the sales tax increases scheduled to take effect from 2019 onwards (put in place by the outgoing administration), according to Castelli.
Separately, an unnamed source within the 5-Star Movement was quoted by Reuters as saying that the economic plan being prepared would not increase the fiscal deficit forecasts of the outgoing administration.
The source stated: “We are not going to propose raising the deficit at this point. … We know Italy is under scrutiny at the moment and we want markets to understand that we want to be responsible with public finances.”
These plans are slated to be presented publicly in April and may or may not end up being implemented, as it remains unclear which parties will end up forming a government — the 5-Star Movement won 32% of the vote itself, but the center-right coalition led by the far-right League (and backed by Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, amongst others) won slightly more as a whole, though no one party comprising it won more than 17% of the vote. The center-right coalition will be presenting its own plan proposals in April as well.
Going on the comments above concerning not easing the deficit, it seems clear that the 5-Star Movement is now courting a possible coalition with the Democratic Party — which saw its share of the vote collapse to an incredible degree (to 19%) during the last election on the back of its willingness to continue with the status quo and waning support for such a course of action.
Reuters provides a bit more: “They are each preparing policy proposals to be presented in April as alternatives to the outgoing government’s multi-year economic plan, but whereas the League has maintained strong eurosceptic rhetoric, 5-Star has taken more moderate positions.”
My earlier article on the 5-Star Movement seems to have generated some critical feedback, so I’m going to make a couple of points here to clarify what I see:
— Support for the status quo in Italy is waning — due to the reality that the current economic system (precipitated by the current EU setup) forces talented young people to move abroad to make a decent living, amongst other things.
— The 5-Star Movement is, literally, one of the only political parties in power anywhere in the world that seems to be seriously considering the embrace of renewable energy. (Yes, there are many politicians that say they are, but then in practice, they mostly just continue with the status quo.)
— The political currents in the country are pulling towards the embrace of periphery parties — in the north towards the League, and in the south towards the 5-Star Movement. People nowadays love to throw around the word “fascist” anytime anyone doesn’t do exactly what they want, to the point that the word now effectively means anything that anyone wants it to. Labeling either of those two parties as “fascist” is effectively just a way of avoiding speaking about the particulars of either party, or the likely outcomes of their policies. In all likelihood, political currents in Italy as a whole are moving towards the vision of the League, rather than that of the 5-Star Movement — due to the greater industrialization and economic power of Italy’s north. That being the case, trying to steer things towards the vision of the 5-Star Movement makes a lot of sense. Unless of course one happens to favor the vision of the League…
— The reality is that Italy is a small and not very populous country with a low birth rate that now loses its smartest young people to other parts of the EU and the world through emigration. To the south of the country lies an overpopulated continent with an almost uncountable number of desperate young people, very high birth rates, and vast slums. Anyone with any knowledge of history knows what comes next.
— The situation that Italy is now in is an existential one. Now, if someone doesn’t actually care whether Italian culture continues to exist, then none of this matters. But, on the other hand, if you’re an Italian and you would prefer to see your current culture and heritage continue, then the situation will of course look quite different. Hence the rise of support for the 5-Star Movement and the League.
— While ideological extremists on the left — supporting such insanities as open borders, the destruction of local traditions, beliefs, customs, craftsmanship, etc., in the name of a utopian universalism — may object to people looking out for the best interests of their culture, I fundamentally can not. It takes a long time for a people to develop any kind of “sense of place” to them, and before that happens, the result of masses of rootless people in a land is simply ecological destruction. Based on widespread travel and a very long reading of world histories, I don’t know how someone can be simultaneously supportive of open borders and mass migrations and also an environmentalist. Genuine regard for the land that you live in is dependent upon being rooted to it — I have never in my life seen any exceptions to that.
— With regard to the 5-Star Movement’s professed support for renewable energy, as a reminder here, despite official global carbon emissions figures being nearly flat the last few years, atmospheric greenhouse gas levels are continuing to grow at an exponential rate; sea levels are continuing to rise at a faster rate every year (and probably nearing the point of a non-linear collapse event); droughts and water scarcity are becoming more and more common; countries are seemingly gearing up to loot the Arctic of its fossil fuel reserves; and climate weirding and warming are intensifying by the year.