The SDES (Service de la Donnée et des Études Statistiques) has recently published the official detailed quarterly analyses of transport price developments for the first quarter of 2021. This is an opportunity to FRETLY to dissect for you the transport price indices over the last two years.

Download the summary of these 3 years as an infographic here!


evolution of road transport prices

At the end of 2019, transport prices were relatively stable, having risen slightly by +0.1% at the very end of the year and at the beginning of 2020. 

The slim enthusiasm does not last long. In the second quarter of 2020, and due to the health crisis, road transport prices in general show a drop of -2.3% compared to the very beginning of the year. They rise again by +0.3% before falling by 0.1% at the end of 2020. 

On average, over the year 2020, road transport prices decreased by -1.1% compared to the year 2019. In more detail, international freight prices increased by +0.8%, while local and intercity freight prices decreased by -2.3% and -0.6% respectively. 

The year 2021 marks the beginning of a timid increase in road transport prices (+0.8%) even if they remain below their level of the first quarter of 2020. 


evolution of rail transport prices

While at the end of 2019 rail freight transport prices were up by 1.9%, the beginning of 2020 saw a further fall in prices (-4.4% in the first quarter). They rebounded sharply in the second quarter (+8.8%), then fell slightly by 0.7% in the third quarter. At the end of the year, rail transport prices stagnate with a minimal increase of +0.1%. 

On average, over the year 2020, rail transport prices have increased by 2.4% compared to 2019. 

In 2021, the trend is upwards at the beginning of the year, even if the peak is still timid (+1.7%)


evolution of maritime transport prices

(*the maritime transport price index includes the evolution of prices for freight transport by ferry as well as the evolution of prices for bulk transport). 

For maritime transport, prices have increased by +0.3% over the last 3 quarters. 

At the beginning of 2020, the middle of the year saw a meteoric rise in prices with +4.5% over the first half of the year. In the middle of the year, the evolution is more sluggish, and maritime transport prices decrease moderately by -1.5%. On the other hand, the end of the year shows a remarkable peak with an increase of +8.7%.

Overall, transport prices grew by an average of +5.7%. 

At the beginning of 2021, due to a strong imbalance between supply and demand, maritime transport prices soared (+16.1%)


price evolution of inland waterway transport

In the field of inland waterway transport, there has been a fluctuating trend in transport prices over the past two years. At the end of 2019 there was already a decrease of -2.5%.

The beginning of 2020 continues the same trend. Between the first and the second quarter, prices still fall slightly by -0.9%. In the third half of the year, prices start to rise again (+3.5%), but the effect does not last. At the end of 2020, prices for inland waterway transport fall again by -5.4%. 

In total, compared to the previous year, prices for inland waterway transport decreased slightly (-0.6%)

2021 marks the timid start of a price increase trend (+0.2% in the first half of the year). 


air transport price evolution

As regards air transport, while prices had fallen by -0.3% at the end of 2019 before starting to rise again in 2020 (+5.3% for the first and second quarters combined). In the third quarter of 2020, due to the consequences of the health crisis and the collapse of demand, air freight prices suffered the sharpest fall for several quarters (-17.2%).

Finally, for the last quarter of 2020, prices start to rise slightly, with an increase of +2.4%. 

At the beginning of 2021, air freight prices can be seen to be soaring, with +11.9% in the first quarter. This can be explained in part by the fact that many airlines have deployed "mixed" systems to limit losses due to the coronavirus (a combination of cargo and passengers). The reason is also to be found on the side of maritime transport, whose prices have largely increased at the end of the year 2020. There has therefore naturally been a shift towards air transport. 

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