National Express predicts recovery after 'encouraging' start to the year

National Express has expressed optimism about its 2021 performance following an “encouraging” start to the year.

National Express runs coach services across the UK
National Express runs coach services across the UK

The Birmingham-based group runs bus services across the region as well as its longer national routes.

It has reported its results covering the period January 1 to April 30, and says has seen its April revenue increase by around 50 per cent compared with the same period in 2020.

Despite revenue for the whole period being 16 per cent below last year, the company is confident that it will be able to return to profitability as restrictions continue to ease.

The company said its UK bus business continues to run a full service with patronage over 60 per cent of pre-Covid levels. It also continue to benefit from government support, underwriting the cost of operating a socially-distanced service.

Covid news:

Social distancing restrictions remain the key determinant of occupancy levels, with less than half the normal seating capacity available to sell, National Express said. Once social distancing restrictions are removed, it expects occupancy rates to rise given the pent-up demand for travel.

Group chief executive Ignacio Garat said: “I am pleased to see the continued improving performance trajectory across our business in the first four months of 2021 despite the ongoing lockdown restrictions. It is very encouraging to see the positive impact on profit delivery of the management actions taken last year.

“I remain grateful for the tireless work and commitment of our colleagues, and for the ongoing support we continue to receive from both customers and authorities, once again demonstrating the strength of the relationships we have built over the years.

“Progress has been made on a number of the ‘big deltas’ outlined at the full year results presentation including the mobilisation of new fleet in Casablanca and the launch of new standard operating procedures in North America School Bus, already delivering financial benefits as part of our ‘Driving Excellence’ programme.

“Whilst we remain focused on managing what we can control, we remain confident that as restrictions across the world are lifted we will see a strong recovery in demand for our services.”

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