Further accelerating the Group's sustainability path: 99% of energy supply from renewable sources, 100% replacement of the car fleet with hybrid vehicles and more than 90% recycling rate of non-hazardous waste, while also incentivising electronic toll collection systems on the entire route to avoid CO2 emissions
The year 2022 is set to be a good one for the Abertis Group's motorway holding company, which has been active for more than 70 years and manages 235.6 km of motorways in the North East and intersects the territories and industrial zones of five provinces in the Veneto and Lombardy regions.
The 2022 financial year recorded a good performance of the company's economic trends, despite the fact that A4 Holding found itself, from the beginning of 2022, operating in a macroeconomic scenario characterised by the continuing effects of the Covid-19 epidemic emergency and the geopolitical tensions that then led to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in March 2022.
The Group achieved consolidated revenue of €445m in 2022 (it had been €402m in 2021), with Ebitda at +16%, up to €242m from 2021 (€209m).
The 2022 investment plan, with an allocation of EUR 101 million, has allowed the company to continue on its path of implementing service and safety standards for those travelling along the two motorway arteries under concession, despite the difficulties and additional resources that were obligatorily allocated to cope with the exceptional increases in the prices of construction materials, as well as fuel and energy products, also as a result of the serious international crisis still unfolding in Ukraine.
A4 Holding also adopted its second 'Sustainability Report' since the company became part of the Abertis Group, which showed the progress achieved in sustainability through the planning and implementation of many corporate innovation processes.
Achievements in 2022 can be enumerated and summarised:
- the distribution to primary stakeholders, including employees, suppliers and public administration, of a total economic value of more than EUR 392 million;
- considerable progress in the priority theme of decarbonisation, reaching 99% electricity supply from renewable sources and continuing investment and energy efficiency measures;
- the guaranteed satisfaction of the work and training needs of its employees, who totalled 461 as at 31.12.2022, with a recruitment rate of 2.9% for the year;
- donations and partnerships with various cultural, social and environmental associations in the area, resulting in 20 initiatives in 2022 in favour of cultural integration, mobility and road safety, education and research, and environmental preservation.
"2022 has been a year of special commitment and objective satisfaction for the results achieved," commented Gonzalo Alcalde, President of A4 Holding, "especially thanks to the great dedication shown by all the employees of A4 Holding. We have managed to grow not only in the company's economic-financial indicators, but also in those related to social and environmental sustainability, where many objectives have already become goals. We have perfected our relationship with local institutions and stakeholders in the area, in order to share ideas and projects in a perspective of even more constructive, structured and permanent dialogue; a dialogue that will allow us to work as early as 2023 on the next project challenges that we should take on in order to prevent the effects of the ever-increasing traffic trends on our network".
PLANNED, IMPLEMENTED AND DESIGNED INVESTMENTS AND INTERVENTIONS
As far as the past financial year is concerned, among the actions planned, initiated and implemented or soon to be implemented, the following should certainly be highlighted:
- those concerning the completion of the new Montecchio Maggiore bus station in the province of Vicenza and the connections to the ordinary road network (total investment of almost EUR 88 million);
- those relating to the construction of the emergency lane on the A4 motorway at the Milan-Venice railway overpass in the municipality of San Martino Buon Albergo (province of Verona), which recently made it possible to double the carriageway of the adjacent Verona Southern Bypass, increasing the number of through lanes from two to four, thus significantly improving the road network in the areas concerned (total investment of EUR 23.5 million);
- the construction of the new motorway station at Castelnuovo del Garda (VR), in order to improve connections between the A4 motorway and the Basso Garda Veronese area (total investment of more than EUR 78 million). In this case, the acquisition of areas and preparatory activities for the construction of the bus station were started in 2022.
- the work on the motorway link between the Brescia-Padova motorway and the Valtrompia- Ospitaletto Sarezzo section in the province of Brescia, the design and construction of which has been assigned to ANAS, but which A4 Holding has decided to co-finance with a planned contribution totalling EUR 270 million;
- the final design of the new 'Noise Abatement and Containment Plan', which covers the entire route of the motorway network in operation and envisages a series of noise abatement works to be carried out in three different lots over a period of 15 years. For the interventions in the first five-year period (Lot 1), the company has allocated 59 million euro;
- the link road between the A31 motorway exit at Thiene (VI) and the Gasparona provincial road, for which the executive project has been drawn up and is awaiting the relevant ministerial opinions, and for which €38.4 million has been allocated;
- the redevelopment of the Verona Sud road network, which envisages a new system of road and mobility connections aimed at improving accessibility to the motorway, the ring road and the local road network connecting to the city centre. At the end of September 2022, A4 Holding activated the verification of the project's submissibility to the Environmental Impact Assessment at the Province of Verona.
TRAFFIC AND ACCIDENTS: 120 MILLION VEHICLES TRANSITED IN ONE YEAR ON THE A4 BRESCIA-PADOVA AND THE A31 VALDASTICO
The traffic data recorded on the network during 2022 show, particularly in the first five months of the year, an overall increase in traffic, both for light and heavy vehicles, on the entire network under management, and an effective return to normal travel patterns, after the strong restrictions adopted to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, which had led to a reduction in journeys/movements for most of 2021. In terms of actual vehicles (number of all vehicle units that entered the motorway, regardless of the kilometres travelled), on the A4 Brescia-Padova and A31 Valdastico motorway sections, traffic recorded an overall increase in the year 2022 of +9.77% compared to 2021 (for a total of no. 111,378,746m actual vehicles). Specifically: on the A4 Brescia-Padova section the overall increase in traffic was +10%, of which +13.30% for the light component and +1.59% for the heavy component, and for the A31 Valdastico section the overall increase was +6.10%, of which +8.35% for the light component and +0.10% for the heavy component. Figures for the first quarter of 2023 also show a further +7.2% increase in average daily vehicles compared to the same period in 2022.
Safety for those travelling along the roads and motorways managed by A4 Holding, which remain among the busiest in Italy and Europe, has always been the highest priority and a non-negotiable prerequisite for the company. A great deal of investment is allocated to ordinary and extraordinary maintenance work on motorways, first and foremost to drained and sound-absorbent pavements on the entire stretch of motorway, which allow greater visibility and grip, reduce the phenomenon of aquaplaning, and limit the occurrence of hazardous situations. More than EUR 19.6 million have been earmarked for this type of work in 2022 alone, including for work batches that will be constructed during the second half of 2023.
This planning has led to a considerable improvement in the overall accident rate (number of accidents per 100 million km travelled) compared to 2021, a tangible sign of the Group's continuous efforts in the field of road safety to protect users and workers working on the artery. The indicator recorded a value of 16.63, a decrease of 11% compared to 2021, when the value stood at 18.61.
ECONOMIC, ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY: € 392 MLN DISTRIBUTED TO STAKEHOLDERS
A4 Holding has always been concretely committed to economic, environmental and social sustainability, as a promoter of the development of the territories crossed by the roads it is responsible for: a task that includes the responsibility of practising sustainable and socially responsible policies to support local communities.
With this aim in mind, A4 Holding recently published its second 'Sustainability Report' since the company joined the Abertis Group, which highlights the Group's environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance and the efforts and progress achieved in sustainability, through the planning and implementation of many corporate innovation processes.
The recovery of traffic volumes allowed the company in 2022 to increase its active role as a promoter of economic development in the area, distributing a total economic value of more than EUR 392 million to stakeholders.
As part of the sustainability strategy developed by the A4 Holding Group, the 2022-2024 action plan has decarbonisation as one of its main objectives with an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions (Scope 1 and Scope 2) by 2024. To this end, the target of supplying 99% of the Group's needs with energy from renewable sources has already been reached in 2022, rising to 100% from 1 January 2023. In addition, in the course of 2022, other initiatives were started that will contribute to achieving the target within the set timeframe: the replacement of 100% of the car fleet (light vehicles) with hybrid vehicles, the replacement by June 2023 of all lights in the light towers along the relevant sections with LED lights, and the encouragement of electronic toll systems to avoid CO2 emissions from vehicles in transit at toll stations (an average of 3,350 tonnes/year). Progress in the environmental sphere also continued thanks to optimised waste management and circular economy initiatives on the total amount of non-hazardous waste generated, ensuring a recycling rate of over 90%. In addition, proper and innovative water resource management allowed for a 20% reduction in water consumption by 2021, through both groundwater and aqueduct withdrawal.
Two best practices inspired by the circular economy model with low environmental impact then implemented the corporate sustainability path: 1) the use of more than 27 tonnes of sustainable graphene (which is composed of recycled plastics) for the binder mix used on the A4 and A31 for the construction and maintenance of road pavements, which maintain high safety standards and a service life of at least 28 years, with fewer maintenance operations and a consequent reduction in construction sites; 2) and the recycling of salt used at tanneries in the Vicenza area, which, following a special process in a unique plant, is converted to sodium chloride that can be used for road de-icing in winter.
As for the projects and actions concerning social sustainability, the Group's commitment to supporting the local community took the form of a total of 20 initiatives for the year 2022, mainly aimed at cultural integration, mobility and road safety, training and research, and environmental preservation, as was the case during the participation in 'Tocatì' in Verona with the 'Sulla giusta strada' (On the right road) project, designed to describe to children and also share with adults the key concepts of sustainable mobility related to road safety, the territory and the environment.
During 2022, the historic partnership with the Fondazione Arena di Verona was also consolidated with the sponsorship of the 99th Arena Opera Festival and the adhesion to the fundraising and corporate membership project '67 Columns for the Arena di Verona', launched in 2020 to fight the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic; during the year, the 'Cattedra Abertis - Year 2021' award was assigned for university research in the field of transport infrastructure management, at its first edition in Italy.
In addition, the Group, in order to demonstrate its commitment to social issues, contributed to various causes through donations in 2022: first among these was the donation made to the Polish Red Cross to support the emergency in Ukraine; another donation was made in favour of the Red Cross of Bardolino, providing a contribution to the purchase of a hydro ambulance, which is able to act as a facilitating 'platform' for specialised medical rescue; finally, the Group reconfirmed its commitment alongside the Verona Strada Sicura (VSS) Association in the dissemination of road safety in secondary schools in Verona and its Province.