Monitoring the economy through air transport

Sept. 4, 2023

IFISC (UIB-CSIC) researcher Massimiliano Zanin has successfully secured the "RE-TE" (Regional Economy-Travel Expectations) project. This project is part of the ERC Proof of Concept initiative and its main objective is to monitor the economic situation at European, national and local levels using flight data as an estimate. 

The project analyses a wide range of variables, including the evolution of flight prices, the number of scheduled flights, the number of seats offered and other indicators related to air transport. These data are used to develop an economic demand estimator, providing a unique insight into the economy in real time. This project represents an extension of the ERC Starting Grant ARCTIC project, also led by Zanin, which focused on the study of delay propagation in the air transport network as an information processing phenomenon. 

With a planned duration of one and a half years, the research team, led by Dr. Zanin, will monitor flight prices within Europe. The basic idea is that demand for air travel is directly correlated to the economic situation: in periods of economic downturn or simply when people are not confident about the future, the first thing to go is air travel: holidays, business meetings that can be done online.... These changes in demand are automatically reflected in ticket prices. So, the idea of the project is to test whether monitoring flight prices within Europe can provide a forecast of the future state of the economy. 

An essential part of this project is the creation of an interactive web platform. Users will be able to access updated data on a high frequency, even on a daily basis. The platform will allow them to see the evolution of the economic indicators generated by the project, to project their future development and to compare the data with previous years. In addition, users will have the ability to download detailed reports with in-depth analysis of the results. 

Proof of Concept projects aim to help scientists bridge the gap between discoveries derived from frontier research and their practical application, and include support for early-stage commercialization. This funding is part of the European Union's Horizon Europe research and innovation programme.

Photo: Ivan Shimko


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