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The socio-economic impact of our airports

The Milan airport system benefits the whole Lombardy region (this often includes the whole of north-west Italy) in terms of attracting capital investments, generating employment opportunities and is a catalyst for investment initiatives. It also merits highlighting its role in other specific economic sectors such as tourism-related sectors, logistics, transport, and trade.

For this reason, we created a data platform to periodically measure our social impact on the region.

In line with the most widely accepted approaches in the literature concerning infrastructure and transport networks, analyses of the direct, indirect, spin-off and catalytic impact were combined and integrated, in order to understand the socio-economic impact for which the airport is directly responsible, in addition to as a generator, rather than an activator, or a central actor, although not exclusively.

Types of impact analyzed

Direct impact
This social impact derives from all the economic activities that provide services to passengers, in addition to the goods circulating within the airport structures (e.g.: carriers, shops, bars, restaurants, car hire, banks, shippers, handlers, state authorities, catering companies, etc.). This was re-organised starting from the list of shops which requested the issuing of a badge to operate within the airports. The average employment per sector and local units was obtained by cross-referencing Istat’s (National Statistics Institute) national and regional databases, information solely related to airport systems and assessments conducted directly in the airports. The Value of Production was estimated by applying average employee productivity indices to the employment data.

Indirect and spin-off economic impact

The indirect impact is that generated by the provision of services and goods to passengers outside of the airport and by the supply chain – triggered by the providers of direct activities. This concerns the increase in end demand prompted by the expenditure of those operating in various forms on the basis of the presence of the airport. Estimating indirect and spin-off effects was undertaken using economic multipliers (respectively Leontief and Keynesian models), as is common practice in economic impact studies. These multipliers are based on national economic input-output models, adjusted per region, so it could be applied to the Lombardy scenario. The model establishes how much output each company or sector needs to acquire from every other sector to produce Euro 1 of goods or services. 

Catalytic impact
The definition of catalytic impact encompasses all the static and dynamic effects arising from the presence of an airport in terms of the attractiveness and the competitiveness of the area involved in its activity. By creating connectivity, the airport either triggers or amplifies socio-economic development mechanisms, boosting the economic growth of the region. 

On the basis of the figures for the last five years and updated to 2018 - reported in various studies commissioned by the Centre for Regional and Sector Development of the LIUC Business School and coordinated by Prof.  Massimiliano Serati - our airport system overall generates - between direct, indirect spin-off and catalytic effects from tourism - for the Lombardy region a value of approximately Euro 47 billion, corresponding to a capacity to create over 388 thousand work units.  These numbers confirm that the overall airport infrastructure managed by SEA is one of the most important "productive systems" in the whole region.