According to 961 respondents from the aviation, rail and shipping industries

  • The aviation sector is the most pessimistic about the economic climate
  • Rail is the transport sector best insulated from the current economic turmoil
  • Infrastructure investment would be the most helpful form of state intervention for all sectors
  • 70% in the aviation sector think that EC competition law has had no effect on their business
  • 91% of rail respondents agree that high speed rail is essential for future economic growth
  • 25% of shipping respondents already see new players entering the market

The aviation sector is more pessimistic than rail and shipping about the economic climate, according to a survey of transport businesses.

The survey: “The Way Ahead for Transport” is based on a survey of 961 individual respondents from the aviation, rail and shipping sectors from 17th June to 3rd July 2009 to coincide with the first signs of improving confidence in the transport industry following the global financial crisis of late 2008. A total of 654 respondents from the rail sector; 154 respondents from the aviation sector and 153 respondents from the shipping sector gave their view. The aim has been to find out how participants in these sectors view the short to medium term future and more specifically their business strategy for managing the impact of the crisis.

When will the effects of the downturn dissipate? Aviation respondents appear to be the least optimistic about the current business environment, with nearly half of aviation respondents (46%) expecting the downturn to take another two to three years to dissipate, compared with 39% in the shipping sector and 38% in the rail sector predicting the crisis will not dissipate for two to three years.

The most insulated sector 87% of rail respondents, 79% of aviation respondents and 77% of shipping respondents think, out of the three transport sectors, rail is the best insulated from the current economic turmoil. A further 27% of rail respondents think the effects of the economic crisis are already dissipating or will do so within six months, compared with 21% of aviation respondents and 17% of shipping respondents citing the same for their own industries.

State Intervention All three sectors agree that infrastructure investment would be the most helpful form of state intervention. Those surveyed in the rail sector are almost twice as eager for such investment as aviation and shipping respondents.

EC Competition Law Looking at the sectors individually reveals striking results. Surprisingly, 70% of aviation respondents think EC competition law has had no impact on their business.

High Speed Rail Essential

There is almost unanimous support for high speed rail, with 91% of rail respondents agreeing it is essential for future economic growth.

New Players in Shipping Although shipping respondents appear to be the biggest victims of the drop in global trade and suffer from a lack of available financing, 25% of respondents in the sector say they are already seeing new players ie: those without a track record in shipping investment, enter the market.

Gordon Hall, Transport Partner, Norton Rose LLP, London, said:

"Aviation sector respondents appear to be the least positive about the current business environment having been forced to contend with a lack of available financing, fluctuations in fuel costs and the reduction in premium and leisure travellers. Whilst rail sector respondents are substantially more positive, thanks to the high level of government support and passenger numbers.

“Shipping respondents appear to be the biggest victims of the drop in global trade, while also suffering from a lack of available financing and with container shipping and dry bulk carriers regarded as the most negatively affected”.