August and the return from vacation operation have yielded the first growth in traffic on the Abertis toll roads in Spain since the outbreak of Covid-19 and in relation to levels prior to the pandemic. And it has done so, in its last week, with an increase in the average daily intensity (ADI) of 10.1%. An increase that consolidates the trend of recent months in which, once the state of alarm was lifted on May 10, the use of Spanish roads has been progressively recovering.
Abertis, the largest toll road concessionaire in Spain, was already on the verge of improving traffic data compared to 2019 in the third week of May, when they were still 0.2% lower. It was not until the second half of August when it has actually achieved it. Between 16 and 22 of last month, the DMI of the payment methods of the company that Atlantia and ACS control still contracted a minimum 0.5%.
And in the last week, between August 23 and 29, the number of vehicles exceeded the aforementioned 10.1% in relation to pre-pandemic levels. An increase, however, that must be contextualized, since this year the day par excellence of the return of the summer holidays, the last Sunday in August, was the 29th, and in 2019 the massive return took place on Sunday, September 1 .
In any case, the trend of the data of the last weeks in the Abertis toll roads, whose data is disclosed by its controlling shareholder, the Italian Atlantia, and the non-public figures handled by many other road operators in Spain consulted by this newspaper, point to a solid recovery in traffic during the second half of August. A scenario propitiated by the impulse of the movements of the Spaniards during the vacations, that have compensated in most of the highways the shortage of international tourists. Not surprisingly, the case of Abertis is representative since its routes under management include the main connections with France – they were until August 31, when the last toll sections were reverted to the State.
In July, interprovincial movements of light vehicles registered a volume equivalent to 82%
With the end of the state of alarm, the lesser restrictions and the gradual recovery of confidence due to vaccination, traffic on Spanish roads has been recovering its activity. Official data from the Ministry of Transport attest to this.
The latest published refer to July 25. In that week, the interprovincial movements of light vehicles registered a volume equivalent to 82% of the one that existed before the pandemic and the heavy ones, even, already placed it above, to 102%. The August numbers are not yet known, but industry sources explain that these percentages “are higher.”
Between January and August -until 29- 2021, Abertis increased traffic on its Spanish toll roads by 23.9% compared to the same period in 2020, although in the comparison with the first eight months of 2019 it still falls on 16 , 7%, more than any of its markets.
France, the concessionaire’s first market, still yields 15% compared to 2019
Outside of Spain, the behaviors are disparate, influenced by the different restriction measures. Thus, France, Abertis’ main market, reached positive levels, with respect to 2019, only in the second week of August, and in the year traffic is still 15% below that of two years ago – compared to 2020 it grows by a 13.5% -.
In Brazil and Chile, adding the Abertis and Atlantia roads, the level of vehicles is, respectively, 2.2% and 10.6% below that of the first eight months of 2019 -13.1 % and 38.6% more than in 2020-. In both countries, the recovery is more consolidated: in Brazil there are now five consecutive weeks on the rise and in Chile, eight. Meanwhile, in Mexico, traffic grew 0.7% in the year compared to 2019 and 19.2% compared to 2020.
Spain, the most affected country in the group
Abertis registered 23.9% growth in traffic on its toll roads in Spain until August 29 compared to the same period in 2020. Until June, this percentage was 27.4%. This difference is due to the improvement in demand in the summer of last year compared to the previous months.
Spain is the market that has been most affected by the pandemic for Abertis, losing weight in its results compared to historical countries of the group such as France, Brazil and Chile. Added to this is the reversion of concessions. On September 1, it stopped managing several sections of the AP-7 and the AP-2 and the C-32 and C-33. With this, Spain will cut its contribution to Abertis by half and will no longer be its second market.