Eurostar bosses see 94% slump in passengers since Covid-19 pandemic
Eurostar bosses see horrifying 94% slump in passengers since Covid-19 pandemic as cross-Channel rail service faces desperate battle to survive
- Fall in passenger numbers sparks fresh call for joint UK-French support package
- Officials from both sides continued talks in a bid to strike a deal amid fears Eurostar is facing bankruptcy
- One rescue option would involve Bank of England providing funds to the firm
Eurostar passenger numbers plummeted 94 per cent at the end of 2020, it emerged yesterday, sparking fresh calls for a joint UK-French support package.
Officials from both sides continued talks yesterday in a bid to strike a deal amid fears the Channel Tunnel firm is facing bankruptcy.
Yesterday’s figures reveal that, over the course of 2020, passenger numbers were down 77 per cent, dropping from just over 11 million in 2019 to 2.5 million.
The fall reached 94 per cent in the final quarter when passenger numbers were 170,010, compared with 2,624,943 in 2019.
Eurostar passenger numbers plummeted 94 per cent at the end of 2020, it emerged yesterday, sparking fresh calls for a joint UK-French support package
One rescue option being discussed would involve the Bank of England providing funds from its Covid loan facility.
Industry projections suggest Eurostar, which is majority-owned by the French government, could go bust by April, although company insiders say reserves could stretch until summer. The UK Government sold its 40 per cent stake in Eurostar in 2015.
Yesterday Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’s French counterpart, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, told a parliamentary committee: ‘We are working with the UK on mechanisms for aid that are proportional pro rata to the importance of Eurostar to each [side].’
The aim is to make Eurostar ‘sustainable from a financial standpoint’.
Supporters say it would be in Britain’s interests to help because offering no support risks a vital link to the Continent being lost.
It also contributes about £800million each year to the UK economy, while emitting between 80 to 90 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions per passenger than the equivalent short-haul flights to Paris and Brussels.
Industry projections suggest Eurostar, which is majority-owned by the French government, could go bust by April, although company insiders say reserves could stretch until summer
Getlink, which owns the Eurotunnel, released figures also showing the number of cars crossing to France fell 46 per cent last year, from 2,601,791 in 2019 to 1,399,051 last year. Coaches, often carrying holidaymakers, fell 71 per cent, from 50,268 to 14,382.
However, the number of lorries crossing remained stable as supermarkets and shops moved to ensure shelves remained full amid the pandemic.
And there was even an increase of 3 per cent in the final quarter of 2020 as businesses stockpiled ahead of Britain finally leaving the EU’s single market on New Year’s Eve.
It came as the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Future of Aviation wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for ‘a pathway to allow aviation’ to immediately take off as the pandemic subsides.
They accepted the need for extra restrictions on arrivals was ‘sadly a necessary measure’ in order to combat the risk of mutant Covid strains and more infections creeping into the country.
But they said it meant a bespoke rescue package for the sector was now more urgent than ever.
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