SURVEY. RESTART OF HAULAGE ECONOMY
The overall positive balance in 2011 was the result of growth during the first six months followed by a gradual slowdown that worsened in the last months of the year.
IS THE CRISIS BEHIND US? It would appear so, at least according to the figures in the report on the economic situation in 2011 by Centro Studi Confetra, one of the major goods haulage associations, which talks about a positive balance for traffic and revenues compared with the previous year in this category. The exceptions are rail haulage because of the recurring downturn in this method of transport, and RO-RO maritime haulage which has suffered from the falloff in North African traffic due to the so-called Arab spring.
The data suggest three main points for reflection. Firstly, the overall positive balance in 2011 was the result of growth during the first six months followed by a gradual slowdown that worsened in the last months of the year. The trend is particularly obvious in international road transport (which dropped from +4% in the first six months to +0.3% for the whole year), in packaged cargo (from +3% to +0.4%), and in international maritime cargo (from +7% to +2.7%).
The second reflection concerns unit revenues: with the exception of road transport, the increase in revenues is considerably lower than the increase in traffic, proof of the continual erosion of margins that firms have endured for many years. With regard to road haulage, the higher increase in revenues compared with the increase in traffic is due to the strong rise in the price of diesel which led to increased prices for customers.
Lastly, there appears to be a discrepancy between the road transport figures declared by hauliers (+1.2% national and +0.3% international) and the +4% increase in road haulage for the same period.
A possible explanation is that Italy’s road haulage is continuing to lose its share of traffic to competitor countries. Aiscat data on the trends in heavy vehicle traffic on Italian motorways show that a recovery in 2010 was followed by a slowdown in growth early in 2011 and again at the end of the year. In December 2011 there was a -5.6% drop in heavy vehicle traffic compared with the same month in 2010.
The price of diesel rose considerably in 2011: after a slight decrease in May/June 2011 it rose again to € 1.672 per litre in January 2012.
During the same period, Brent (the European benchmark for petrol prices) showed a slight drop, a reversal in the trend for diesel prices. In 2011, motorway tolls increased by an average of 3.3%, but this percentage varies substantially from one concessionary to another. The average increase by Autostrade per l’Italia was 1.92%.
In general, the Industrial Production Index in 2011 varied against 2010. After peaking in August 2011 (+4.7%), variations from September to December were negative. Financial problems for firms in the “haulage and storage” sector increased by 42% in a year (3rd quarter 2010/3rd quarter 2011) to about € 2.3 billion.
From the first quarter of 2009 to the third quarter of 2011 the increase was 134%. The average annual inflation rate was 2.9%, an increase compared with 2010 (1.6%) and slightly higher than the euro zone average (2.7%).
In 2010, the number of deaths in Italy due to accidents involving heavy vehicles continued to drop and was 4% lower than in 2009, but injuries increased by 3%. From 2002 through 2010 there was a 19% drop in injuries and the number of deaths decreased by 43%.