Transportation & Logistics Analysis

White Paper: Spanish freight transport in 2022

August 04 2023

The slowdown in the Spanish economy in 2022 has weighed on the development of road and rail freight transport. Port traffic and air freight have also suffered from this economic context, which has been exacerbated by international tensions.

Spanish GDP grew by 5.5% over 2022 as a whole, but growth slowed with each passing quarter. This economic context has had a negative impact on the freight transport business:

  • Road transport

The latest survey from the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Development (Mitma) reveals a decline in overall activity of 1.3% in 2022, to 266.7 billion tonne-kilometres (tkm). This decline is attributable to trends in the domestic market (-2.5%), with international activity remaining up by 1.2%.

  • Rail freight

According to the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC), which is the regulatory body for rail transport in Spain (passenger and freight), overall rail traffic for the 10 companies carrying freight reached 23.99 Mt in 2022, down 6.2% on the previous year. However, traffic expressed in tonne-kilometres is up slightly (+0.9%, 10.53 million tkm).

  • Port traffic
Spanish port traffic reached 548 Mt in 2022, up 3% on 2021, according to figures published by Puertos del Estado, the public body responsible for Spain's commercial ports. The result is still slightly below the peak reached in 2019 (552 Mt), and this deficit is unlikely to be made up in 2023, since the figures for the first 6 months show a 3.8% fall in traffic.
  • Air freight

Spain is a major player in European port traffic, which is not the case for air freight. Over 2022 as a whole, traffic remained virtually stable. With an increase of 0.2%, it has again passed the million tonne mark, but remains 6.5% below the 2019 level. Statistics for the first six months of 2023 show an overall increase in traffic of 2.8% to 507,543 t, 1.6% higher than in 2019.

To download the "2022 Review of freight transport in Spain", please fill in the form below


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Daniel Solano is an economics journalist. Based in Spain, he covers international trade and transport issues.
See all its articles