INDUSTRY PULSE: Rise in costs offsets impressive gain in revenues for Canadian for-hire carriers

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OTTAWA, Ont. — Operating revenues for Canada’s estimated 3,620 largest for-hire carriers increased 14% in the first quarter of 2004 compared to the same quarter the previous year, but costs rising at the same pace prevented any improvements to the bottom line.

Operating revenues for the country’s largest for-hire carriers (firms with annual revenues of $1 million or more) totalled $6.16 billion, according to a report released by Statistics Canada, while their operating expenses reached $5.84 billion, also a 14% from the first quarter of 2003.

The operating ratio (operating expenses divided by operating revenues) was unchanged at 0.95.

The increase in expenses was mainly driven by higher payments to owner operators (+20%) and maintenance expenses (+18%).

Average operating revenues and expenses per carrier both increased 4% from the same period in 2003. Average operating revenues were $1.89 million, up from $1.82 million and average expenses were $1.79 million, up from $1.73 million.

Revenues from international movements rose to $2.26 billion during the first quarter of 2004, a 14% increase from the same period in 2003. Both outbound and inbound revenues increased by more than 13%.

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