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The fight for drivers in Europe – a crisis in the transport industry

The crisis in the transport industry is becoming a fact. Forecasts for the future are not optimistic. Many experts suggest that the transport industry in Europe is facing extremely difficult times, as evidenced by the numbers and trends in recent months. In these difficult times for the European economy, the transport sector is one of the hardest hit areas. Why did this happen and what are the forecasts for the future? Let’s analyze the situation step by step.

Market conditions in the shadow of the crisis

The first half of 2023 brought a significant slowdown in the European transport market. This period was characterized by weaker results compared to both 2022 and the pre-pandemic period of 2019. Moreover, companies in the transport industry struggle with the common problem of driver shortage as well as having more trucks than professional drivers. 

Decrease in demand for transport services

There is a noticeable decline in demand for transport services. According to estimates from transport exchanges, it may be up to 15-20% compared to last year. This is not the only problem. Data for the second quarter of 2023 shows that the availability of freight offers decreased by 46.3% compared to the same period in the previous year. At the same time, we are observing a decline in the average freight price per kilometre in Europe.

Wage problems in the industry – the transport crisis has become a fact

Minimum wages in Poland are increasing from year to year. While this benefits employees, companies must face higher costs of doing business. Currently, the costs of running a transport business very often exceed revenues, which makes transport unprofitable.

Bankruptcies in the transport sector

The statistics regarding transport company bankruptcies are alarming. In the first half of 2023, 208 companies declared bankruptcy, including seven from the road transport industry. This number is equal to the total number of bankruptcies in this sector in 2022. From year to year, we also see a significant increase in bankruptcy and restructuring proceedings.

The situation in maritime transport

It is not only road transport that is experiencing problems. The situation at sea is also worrying, with a 6% decline in container transport in Poland in the Baltic and North Sea, as indicated by the chairman of the Polish Chamber of Forwarding and Logistics, Marek Tarczyński.

The effects of international political tensions

The conflict in Ukraine and ill-considered political decisions in relations with Russia and Belarus have had a negative impact on Polish carriers. Trade restrictions and diplomatic problems have resulted in the Polish transport industry being cut off from several important eastern markets, which affected approximately 10-15% of carriers.

Errors in Polish legislation

The President of the Association of International Road Carriers, Jan Buczek, points to inconsistencies in Polish law, which impose fewer obligations on intermediaries than on transport service providers.

The transport crisis – what is the forecast?

Although the current situation in international transport is difficult, some analysts believe that the worst times may still lie ahead. However, crises also often bring about opportunities to rethink strategy and innovate. This may be the ideal time to invest in new technologies, increase efficiency and look for alternative markets. Time will tell how the industry adapts to these challenges and what pathways of development will be chosen. It is essential to observe what is going on and act in response to dynamically changing conditions so that the industry can survive and get back on track.

Summary of the current transport situation

The transport industry, both road and sea, is going through difficult times. On the one hand, it is struggling with internal challenges, such as rising costs and falling demand, and on the other – with global political tensions. One thing is certain – the future will bring both challenges and opportunities for those who can adapt.

A 2023 transport crisis overview

  • 1. Market situation in the shadow of the crisis: slowdown in the transport sector in 2023.
  • 2. Decrease in demand for transport services: up to 15-20% less interest in transport services.
  • 3. Wage problems in the industry: minimum wage increase from July 2023.
  • 4. Bankruptcies in the transport sector: 208 companies announced bankruptcy in the first half of 2023.
  • 5. The situation in maritime transport: 6% decline in container transport in the Baltic and North Sea.
  • 6. The effects of international political tensions: the situation in Ukraine, the conflict with Russia and Belarus have had a negative impact on current transport costs.