The owners of Dundee bus company Xplore Dundee has slumped to a pre-tax loss of £61 million for the first half of 2020.
National Express revealed that Covid-19 travel restrictions had led to an “unprecedented drop in passenger demand” for the firm, after “outstanding results in January and February”.
Group revenue fell by 22.7% from £1.34 billion in the first half of 2019, to £1.03bn for the six months ending June 30, 2020.
A fall in passenger demand of 80% saw the group move to provide a reduced service, along with the suspension and near suspension of UK and Spanish coach operations to safeguard cash.
In March, Xplore Dundee reduced its services to public holiday levels and staff were asked to take a pay deferral in a bid to safeguard jobs.
In July, the firm suspended the popular Dundee to Edinburgh Airport bus route “until further notice” due to low flight demand.
In a statement, the firm said it did not know when demand will return to pre-pandemic levels, but the group remains optimistic.
Dean Finch, group chief executive, said: “While there are some signs of demand returning, levels are both significantly reduced and subject to variability given local lockdowns, the impact of quarantines and uncertainty over the extent of US school re-openings.
“We do not know when pre-pandemic levels of demand will return but have developed plans to respond to future scenarios and maintain safe and efficient operations thereby ensuring the continued financial well-being of the group.”
In a statement the firm said it had boosted liquidity and secured £1.5bn of new sources of funds since the start of the lockdown, including £230m placing to strengthen the balance sheet.
Neil Shah, director of research for Edison Group, said: “As expected, National Express swung to a loss for the first half of 2020, recording a £60.7m pre-tax loss which compares starkly with the £114.6m profit recorded at the same point last year.
“In addition to the impact of large sections of the economy working from home during this period, the closure of schools in North America has also had a significant depressive effect on National Express’s performance, as the company runs over 20,000 school buses in this region.”
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