Coach operator National Express swung to a £30m loss in the first half of 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic sent passenger demand plummeting 80 per cent.
Despite the drop in passenger numbers, the bus firm said it still managed to secure 50 per cent of revenue in the period, recording cash flow of £270m over the six months.
After achieving record results in January and February this year, the pandemic meant that profit swung from £139.3m last year to a £30.6m loss this year.
Revenue also declined 22.7 per cent in the period, slipping from £1.34bn to £1.03bn this year.
National Express’ net debt increased slightly, from £1.28bn to £1.34bn, as the firm took steps to strengthen its balance sheet due to uncertainty over when demand will recover.
The company has secured £1.5bn in new funding since the pandemic began, including a £230m share placing.
It also drew down £600m from the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF).
In total, National Express now has a total of £1.7bn in cash, committed facilities and the undrawn component of the CCFF.
Why it’s interesting
Transport operators have been among the worst affected by the pandemic, with lockdown measures meaning demand for their services have all but flatlined.
The government has committed more than £700m in emergency funding for bus operators alone, and has signalled it will continue to fund them until the pandemic ends.
National Express made full use of government support schemes during the period, furloughing 40,000 members of staff.
The firm said that it would use the job retention bonus to reduce bus fares when restrictions are lifted.
During the lockdown period the firm, which has operations in the UK, US, and Spain, also secured an additional £650m in new contracts.
It said that due to continuing uncertainty as to when demand would return it was not offering financial guidance at this point.
What National Express said
Chief executive Dean Finch said: “We remain fundamentally positive about the future.
“The diversification of the group in recent years has provided resilience during the pandemic, as risk has been spread.
“In addition, we believe our leadership positions in many diverse and attractive markets are likely to strengthen, as other operators are unable to withstand the impact of the pandemic.”