Italy's ENAV thrives on robust return to growth

In its first half results for 2018, Italy’s ENAV demonstrated a healthy operating performance on the back of a significant increase in traffic, one of the highest in Europe.
ENAV chief executive officer Roberta Neri said the first half saw the Italian air navigation service provider deliver excellent results with regard to the rebound of air traffic which represented a higher growth rate than any other large European country – while also turning in one of the best operating performances.
“The professionalism of our people and the investments in technology have enabled us to implement – ahead of other main air navigation service providers in Europe – the Free Route procedure which allows airlines to save time, fuel and CO2 emissions, making our airspace more attractive,” she said, adding that the signing of a new labour contract agreement also represented an important milestone in working towards the business’ growth ambitions.
She said the first half was characterised by a marked increase in service units both in terms of en-route and terminal traffic, and by the ongoing focus on efficiency and on improved processes among the group businesses, in line with the objectives defined in the 2018-2022 business plan.
En-route traffic in Italy, in terms of service units, grew 8.7 per cent versus 2017, delivering the highest growth rate among largest European countries: France +2.3 per cent versus, Germany +3.3 per cent, Great Britain +3.3 per cent, Spain +5.1 per cent. The company’s operating performance was also one of the strongest among the largest European service providers with average minutes of delay per assisted flight in the first six months of the year of 0.069 minutes compared to an assigned target of 0.11 minutes.
The growth in en-route traffic over Italian airspace involved both domestic and international traffic (+2.6 per cent and +7.6 per cent respectively) and, in particular, overflight traffic which showed an increase of 14.5 per cent in terms of service units. This performance was, in addition to the solid results on punctuality, also due to the implementation of the Free Route procedure that allows all aircraft at an altitude of over 9,000 metres, to cross national airspace following a direct route.
Terminal traffic rose by 4.4 per cent in the first half compared to the same period in 2017. This growth was mainly due to excellent levels of international traffic, which showed an increase of 5.5 per cent. The main Italian airports recorded an increase in line with the national average: Fiumicino +4.6 per cent, Malpensa +6.6 per cent, Venice +3.8 per cent, Bergamo +6 per cent. Milan Linate airport was the only major Italian airport to record a decline of 3.3 per cent due to Air Berlin ceasing operations and Air Italy having reduced its flights. Airports in southern Italy also showed a significant increase: Naples +15.8 per cent, Catania +8.3 per cent, Palermo +13.2 per cent, Bari +2.3 per cent.
“The first data observed in July confirms the growth trend observed so far and leads us to expect that this year’s end-of-year result, in terms of service units, will be similar to the levels recorded in this first half,” Neri added. “Such growth would allow the business to position itself within the so-called dead band with regard to coverage of traffic risk (+/- 2 per cent of the traffic budgeted for in the performance plan). Any further increases in traffic and the related revenues should, therefore, be to the total benefit of the group.”
As for cost trends, Neri said it expected there to be a ‘continuity of action’ in the second half of the year in line with its business plan.
She noted that preparations for the next regulatory period will be important following the European Commission’s publication of the first draft of the regulations that will governs the third Reference Period (2020-2024) and the expected levels of economic and operating performance that providers will be required to achieve