testata inforMARE

02 July 2022 The on-line newspaper devoted to the world of transports 06:24 GMT+2

March 16, 2022

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Original news
Istat has analyzed the impact of the pandemic on activity of Italian ports

Considerable on the passenger segment; less relevant on goods

Istat took stock of the impact of the crisis induced by the Covid-19 pandemic on maritime transport in Italy, emergency - explained the National Institute of Statistics - which froze the passenger transport but not freight traffic. Only two data highlight this: in 2020 the quantity of goods on board and landed in Italian ports has been reduced by -7.6% compared to to the previous year, while passenger transport is decreased by more than a third (-36.3%), although in 2020 Italy will is confirmed in first place among European countries for the number of passengers transported by sea.

Regarding the position of Italian ports in the European Union as regards goods handled, Istat has detected that for several years Italy has ranked second in Europe, after the Netherlands, for the carriage of goods by sea. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions put in place by the various countries have led to a drastic reduction in the number of goods transported to Worldwide. Compared to 2019 - specified the Institute - in all the EU27 countries (from 2020 without the United Kingdom) the decrease was -7.3%. The Netherlands, albeit with a decrease of -8.2%, continue to maintain the primacy for quantity of goods transported, (16.8% of the total number of countries) EU). Following Italy, which holds a share of 14.1% and, compared to to 2019, it marked a decrease of -7.6%. Italy precedes the Spain, which has a share of 13.7% and has undergone a change of -8.3% compared to 2019. Other countries relevant to transport of goods by sea are Germany, France and Belgium (about 8% of the EU total for each country). Among the top 20 European ports with the greater quantity of goods transported, always in 2020, Trieste is in eighth place and Genoa in thirteenth.

As for the passenger traffic sector, Istat has highlighted that 2020 was a dramatic year especially for the maritime transport of passengers due to the restrictions on mobility imposed on citizens. At the level compared to 2019, the transport of people by sea has been practically halved (-45%). In Italy the decrease is was lower than the European average (-36.3%) and did not compromise the first place in Europe for the number of passengers boarded and landed (24% of the EU total). This is followed by Greece, (17.8%) and Denmark (13.4%). Other countries with a passenger quota transported although relevant but lower are Croatia (8.2% of the total EU), Germany (7.2%) and Spain (6.2%). To mark the primacy of Italy mainly contribute the ports of Sicily. The Europe's first port for passenger traffic is Messina and the second Reggio di Calabria, which also includes Villa St. John. Following are two Greek ports, but in fifth place Naples is positioned.

About the ship traffic in Italian ports in the most year hit by the pandemic, Istat explained that in 2020, despite the decrease in the quantity of goods and passengers transported by sea compared to 2019, there was a overall increase in the number of trips, mainly determined from the movements of empty ships. Overall in Italy in 2020 518,421 ships arrived, of which 98% in the "main ports for goods" or "main ports for passengers". Compared to 2019, the latter recorded an increase of +7.1% in the number of ships arrived. This increase in maritime movements is due solely to the positive performance of non-cargo ships specialized (+11.7%) while all other categories of ships have highlighted significant decreases. The decline in travel is was particularly evident for cruise ships (-90.5%), but also for specialized carriers (-32.3%), passenger ships (-16.0%) and other types of ships (-25.9%). In terms of tonnage gross, the overall reduction in maritime transport is equal to -15.6% (2.4 million the total gross tonnage of all ships arrived in 2020) and covered all categories, although non-specialised cargo ships are, in percentage terms, those with the smallest variation (-2.2%). Also in this case the most affected category is that of cruise ships (-85.0%). In the main ports, cargo ships do not as in the previous year, the type of ship that has made more trips (about 450 thousand ships arrived, over 88% of the total) and at the same time also the type with the highest gross tonnage (70% of the total). Passenger ships are in second place, accounting for about 6% of ships arriving in the main Italian ports and 0.3% of the total in terms of gross tonnage. Container ships and ships liquid bulk carriers together make up 4% of the total and more 22% in terms of gross tonnage.

In 2020 more than 50% of non-specialized cargo ships have touched a small number of ports, located mainly in the South: Messina and Reggio di Calabria with 29% of the flows; to follow Naples, Trapani, Piombino, Carloforte, Livorno, Portovesme, Palermo and Genoa. In contrast, passenger ships (second category for number of arrivals) affected a greater variety of harbours. 21% of the trips involved a landing in the ports of Naples, Trapani, Messina, Reggio di Calabria and Palermo. 52% of ships liquid bulk carriers landed in the ports of Augsburg (at first place), Naples, Ravenna, Venice (with Porto Marghera), Gioia Tauro, Genoa, Livorno, Trieste and Palermo. Container ships, instead, they have traveled routes directed mainly to the ports of Genoa and Gioia Tauro, followed by La Spezia, Livorno, Venice, Salerno, Trieste, Ravenna and Naples, covering a total of 83% of arrivals. Ports that are distinguished by the number of ships dry bulk carriers are Ravenna and Venice (which represent the 37%) followed by those of Cagliari, Taranto, Bari, Monfalcone, Brindisi, Chioggia and Naples (which together represent the 30% of arrivals).

With regard to the types of goods on the ships they have made stopover in Italian ports, Istat has specified that in Italy about half a billion tons of goods per year. Despite the fact that the transport of goods is relatively more intense in the central quarters of the year than in the first and fourth, non-port and maritime activity it has strong characteristics of seasonality. In the last ten years, the share of goods transported in the second and third quarter stands on average per quarter at 26% of the total annual. The first and fourth quarters shall cover a share equal to 24% each. The main product categories transported on ship are raw materials and energy products such as coals fossils, crude oil, natural gas and coke and products refined petroleum (38.3% of the total transported). Compared to 2019 the amount of "Coke and petroleum products refined" decreased by -8.7%, that of "Carbons" fossils and lignites; crude oil and natural gas" of -14,3%. All other categories are down, with the exception of the category "Secondary raw materials; municipal waste and other waste waste" that in 2020, despite representing only 0.3% of the total goods transported, recorded an increase in +46,1%. Liquid bulk makes up 39.3% of the commodity transported; containers 20.5% while 20.7% is consisting of ro-ro cargo, i.e. towed and non-towed vehicles accompanied, such as road trailers and semi-trailers for the freight transport, caravans and railway wagons.

As for Italy's national sea transport, the Istat report specifies that the maritime transport of goods between ports focuses more on the Tyrrhenian side, also for the trade with island regions; the most consistent flows are between Sicily and Campania and between Sardinia and Tuscany. Between the ports Italians of the Adriatic side the most traffic relationship important is between Veneto and Friuli - Venezia Giulia. In the connection between the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian coasts prevails the traffic between Sicily and Emilia-Romagna. For Ionic regions, the prevailing relations are between Puglia and Emilia-Romagna and Liguria, and Calabria with Liguria and Campania (excluding connections with Sicily).

With regard to trade by sea with italy's foreign countries, the report indicates that in 2020, in ports about 470 million tons of goods embarked and landed; among these, 60% concern international traffic, with a total amount of incoming goods equal to about 2.5 times the outgoing quantity from the national territory. The most important is with Turkey (over 37 million tons overall, equal to 13.4% of the total), followed by Russia (32 million, or 11.4%) and Spain (23 million, or 8.3%). The first ten traffic reports make up 63% of the exchanges of goods on a ship between Italy and the rest of the world and, among these, even China, although with a smaller weight, equal to 3.3% of traffic international maritime trade.

Illustrating the impact of the pandemic on activities ports, istat analysis explains that the pandemic has not affected on all Italian ports in equal measure. In general, the specialization of some ports, which under normal conditions represents a strong point for their business, it is transformed into a factor of weakness by exposing them more to pandemic effects, while diversification has protected the most versatile and multi-purpose joints during the crisis. In 2020 the five main Italian ports by traffic international container goods are Genoa, Gioia Tauro, La Spezia, Livorno and Trieste, which alone have enlivened 76% of goods transported in containers (in 2019 it was 79%). More in detail, the port of Genoa remained on levels similar to past years (only for container goods, since overall it has suffered a decrease in goods of -11%), the port of Gioia Tauro has instead increased by +24.4% the quantity of goods in containers, while the ports of Livorno, La Spezia and Trieste suffered a significant decline (respectively -35.2%, -30,6%, -10,2%).

Years 2019/2020, absolute values and changes Percentages

YEAR 2020



goods on board and
landed - tons
number of ships
gross tonnage
goods on board
and landed -
number of ships
gross tonnage


















































Source: Istat, Maritime transport

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