Global recovery on the line as road transport losses escalate

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 1, 2020

New IRU research shows that more than 3.5 million road transport operators globally are facing unprecedented financial losses this year, as a result of transport restrictions and the overall economic downturn caused by the pandemic. 

Goods transport companies globally expect an average 18% decline in turnover in 2020, totalling EUR 551 billion. 

  • The sector is significantly affected in the Middle East and North Africa (-22%) and Asia (-21%); in Europe it is down EUR 64 billion (-17%) 

  • Companies in Argentina, China and Iran face more than 30% decline

Estimated Covid-19 impact on road freight turnover in FY 2020 as of April 2020
Geographical coverage: IRU member countries with available information in order to estimate the impact on road freight turnover.

Passenger transport companies in Europe expect to lose EUR 81 billion this year, or 57% of their annual revenue. 

  • Coach tourism (-82%) and intercity (-70%) services are most affected, followed by taxi companies (-60%) and urban bus services (-42%) 

  • Companies in Bulgaria, Spain, Sweden and the UK face more than 70% decline

Covid-19 impacts on European road passenger transport

Both goods and passenger transport companies reported that more restrictions were put in place than facilitation measures during peak confinement periods, further impacting the industry.

“Road transport services are fundamental to economies and communities everywhere,” said IRU secretary general Umberto de Pretto. “These new findings are alarming. Every single road transport operator who goes bankrupt will impact the movement of people and goods.”

IRU has published a 10 point recovery plan, with financial and non-financial measures for governments and banks, to support struggling road transport operators, ease the movement of people and goods, and drive global recovery, but very little, and in some cases nothing, has happened since.

“We have seen many governments adjust regulations and announce recovery packages, but the detail for road transport operators is generally vague,” said de Pretto.

“Our research points to the immediate need for measures targeted to the industry that match the scale of the current situation. Even at the peak of the crisis, road transport remained flexible, operational and continued to play its unique role. Now, global recovery efforts are endangered without clear government action to support road transport operators.”