National Express shares take a hit as group posts £30m loss

As passenger numbers plummetted by 80%, National Express (LON: NEX) has posted a £30m loss for the first six months.

The coach operator’s profits fell from £139.3m in the same period last year. Although the group recorded a record in January and February, the drop in travel amid the pandemic hit profits.

National Express furloughed 40,000 members of staff and the government has said it will provide £700m in emergency funding to bus operators.

With travel still impacted and high uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, National Express has not given profit guidance for the second half of the year.

Dean Finch, National Express Group Chief Executive, said: “During the lockdowns we proactively communicated with customers to vary service and negotiate additional support and payments. We have also secured exceptional governmental funding across all of our major markets and made use of furlough schemes. We were swift to save operating costs as we have nimbly reduced service.”

“As we have restarted services, we have again worked closely with customers and ensured safety is paramount. 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.”

“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.”

National Express shares (LON: NEX) have fallen over 12% and are trading at 154.84 (0857GMT).