Royal Mail has revealed that fuel costs for its fleet of 37,000 light and heavy commercial vehicles are at a record high, pushing it to introduce a fuel surcharge for the first time.

It has applied a 2.5% fuel surcharge to some of its contract parcels services to bring it more in line with competitors, which it said is “considerably lower” than other carriers’ charges.

A Royal Mail spokesman told MT: “The price of fuel is a major element of parcel delivery costs. Our fuel costs are at a record high, up more than 40% in the past five years, and volatility in the price of fuel means that we need a more effective method of reflecting this in our price.”

Rival Yodel operates a surcharge at 0.5% for every 4p cost on the price of fuel, while FedEx applies an 18% fuel surcharge across some of its EMEA services.

Yodel chief executive Neil Lloyd said: “Yodel has always operated a fuel surcharge and reviews its policies frequently to remain consistent with its operating cost model and market position.”

Hermes also charges for fuel, but separates the cost to provide transparency for customers. A spokeswoman said: “This move by Royal Mail brings it into line with the rest of the industry.

Previously, Royal Mail’s annual tariff gave protection against fuel-price fluctuation, but this latest development suggests this is no longer the case.”

However Royal Mail’s biggest end-to-end competitor, TNT Post, said it does not apply a fuel surcharge.