Eurostar reports £25m loss after terror attacks in Europe hit demand - but says US travel will get it back on track

Rebecca Smith
Eurostar has had a positive start to the year after a difficult 2016
Eurostar has had a positive start to the year after a difficult 2016 (Source: Getty)

Eurostar suffered a £25m loss after a "challenging 2016", citing the aftermath of terror attacks in Europe and difficult trading conditions.

But the high-speed rail service said the early signs of 2017 were positive thanks to a boost in US travel.

Read more: It's full steam ahead for Eurostar's Amsterdam services

The figures

Last year proved a bumpy ride for Eurostar: passenger numbers were down four per cent from 10.4m in 2015 to 10m in 2016 after terrorist attacks in Europe dampened demand.

Sales revenues fell three per cent to £794m from £821m in 2015 and a decline of eight per cent at constant exchange rates.

The perfect storm of "tough trading conditions" and lower demand meant Eurostar reported an underlying operating loss of £25m last year, after a £34m profit for 2015.

On a positive note, a surge in demand from the US has given the rail service something to cheer in the New Year. Since the start of 2017, the number of US travellers rose 17 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Why it's interesting

The company has struck an upbeat tone about the year ahead, focusing on a "strong start" to 2017, with sales revenues up 12 per cent in the first 10 weeks, compared to the same time last year. That has followed its busiest December on record.

Eurostar noted a bump in business travel, up four per cent in the first 10 weeks, and a "resurgence in demand" from the US. The fall in the value of the pound has made trips cheaper for US tourists.

Eurostar also focused on the "major programme of investment" it's carrying out in its fleet, stations and services to meet demand. The cross-Channel service is bringing in 17 new e320 trains over the next 18 months and recently unveiled a new business lounge in Gare du Nord in Paris.

What the company said

Nicolas Petrovic, chief executive of Eurostar, said:

Despite the difficult trading environment last year, we continued to make major investments in new trains, our stations and our overall service.

With the return of travellers from the US and business travel on the increase, the market is now rebounding strongly and we are optimistic about the growth prospects for the year.

Read more: Eurostar opens sales for new high-speed train to Bordeaux

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