The Lithuanian transport sector maintains momentum in H1: cargo and passenger traffic surges, planes at full capacity

  • 2023-09-14
  • Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Lithuania

The Lithuanian transport and logistics sector reported improved results in the first half of this year, with a 9% rise in revenue, a 3% rise in freight volumes, a 15% growth in passenger traffic and a remarkable 20% surge in the number of air travellers. Airplane load factors have also returned to pre-pandemic levels, as detailed in the 2023 H1 transport sector overview prepared by the Ministry of Transport.

"Despite the prevailing economic uncertainty at the beginning of the year, the transport and logistics sector remained competitive. This was mostly influenced by the income of logistics and warehousing companies as well as the increased flows of both international and domestic road transport freight, which went up by nearly 12%. In addition, we have noticed that people have reverted to their previous routines, embracing public transport once more as they are enthusiastically resuming travel bus, train and plane," says Natalija Baranauskienė, Senior Advisor at the International Cooperation Group of the Ministry of Transport.

According to preliminary data, the revenue generated by the transport and logistics sector in the first half of this year reached EUR 9.2 billion, whereas the export of services grew by 7% year-on-year to EUR 4.63 billion. Investment in the sector went up by 53% to EUR 0.76 billion.

The fast pace of inflation last year and declining consumption in Europe had forced carriers to reduce road transport rates and profit margins this year, but freight transport remains in a favorable position due to the faster-declining inflation in the transport sector as compared with the country as a whole, in addition to falling fuel prices. Furthermore, according to the data of the Association of Automobile Manufacturers ACEA, the demand for new trucks and the number of new registrations in Lithuania was one of the fastest in Europe: in the first half of this year, 6,073 new trucks (over 16 t gross weight) were registered in Lithuania, which is 52% more than in the same period last year (4,006).

Freight transportation grew by 3.3% in the first half of this year, up to 76.2 million tonnes. Road transport accounted for 59.1 million tonnes (up 11.6%), whereas inland water transport carried 0.84 million tonnes (up 39%). However, in the last six months, railway carriage decreased by 19% to 13.1 million tonnes. The drop in freight volumes, caused by Russia's war against Ukraine and the coming into force of sanctions for the transportation of various types of freight from the Eastern markets, was somewhat compensated by increased domestic transportation within the country, particularly of grain and mineral products. 

While expanding the geography of intermodal routes and carrying out freight diversification projects aimed at better Western connections, intermodal transports from Kaunas to Duisburg were continued, as well as trial transportation by the Amber Train connecting the Baltic countries, Lithuania-Latvia-Estonia. In February this year, a container train on the Kaunas-Slawkow route was successfully launched. This train carries goods in containers twice a week from Lithuania to the south of Poland, and from there to Germany, Italy, Slovenia, and the Polish port of Gdansk. 

Meanwhile, freight volumes of other Baltic railway companies have also decreased. In Latvia and Estonia, the decline was 38% and 70%, respectively.

In the first half of this year, transhipment volumes at the port of Klaipėda decreased to 16.3 million tonnes, down 10% year-on-year. Meanwhile, transhipment volumes in the neighboring ports fell even more, with a 15% drop reported by Riga, a 22% decline by Ventspils and a 31% fall by Tallinn. In the first half of the year, the port of Klaipėda reported the biggest declines in the transhipment of fertilizers (-75%), scrap metal (-20%), and ro-ro (-15%). However, increased handling of containers (+20 percent), timber (+46 percent), grain (+53 percent) and LNG (+32 percent) helped set off these losses and maintain a healthy balance of port operations.

Passenger transportation in all modes of transport continued to grow. Compared with the corresponding period last year, passenger traffic went up 15% to 168 million. In the first half of the year, the number of passengers transported by buses and trolleybuses grew by 15%, while passenger traffic by rail and inland waterways was up 6.6% and 4.3%, respectively. However, this still falls short of the pre-pandemic 2019 volumes, when 192 million passengers were transported in the corresponding period.

The first half of the year was also successful for Lithuanian airports, with the number of passengers up 20% at 2.8 million. According to the data of Lithuanian Airports, in the first half of this year, the average airplane load factor at the commercial airlines that flew from Lithuanian airports was 73% (compared with 66% in 2019). On average, seat occupancy on the flights of low-cost airlines stood at 88% (compared with 89% in 2019).

In the first half of this year, airlines offered passengers 90 direct regular flight destinations from Lithuanian airports: Vilnius airport had 53 destinations, and Kaunas and Palanga airports offered 31 and 6 regular flight destinations, respectively.