Losses deepen at Channel Tunnel operator on Brexit, virus

A train exits the Channel Tunnel. — AFP file pic
A train exits the Channel Tunnel. — AFP file pic

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PARIS, July 22 — Getlink, the operator of the Channel Tunnel link between France and Britain, reported today deepening losses in the first half of the year as Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic hit traffic flows hard.

Revenues came in at €326 million (US$385 million) in the first six months of this year, a drop of 12 per cent from the same period last year when Covid-19 first hit. That is a 38-per cent drop from the pre-pandemic level in 2019.

Net losses swelled to €123 million, compared to 88 million in the first six months of last year.

That also surpassed the €113-million-loss it suffered in 2020 as a whole.

The company said the results reflected “the effects of the pandemic as well as by the new administrative formalities for Brexit.”

It said traffic by high-speed Eurostar train service was “severely disrupted as a result of government travel restrictions” as were other passenger services through the tunnel.

Eurostar services suffered a 96 per cent drop in traffic from the 2019 pre-pandemic level to just over 200,000 passengers.

The decline in car traffic was 78 per cent and coach traffic 87 per cent.

Meanwhile, the company said lorry traffic, which was “impacted over the first three months of the year due to stockpiling before the end of the (Brexit) transition period at the end of December and the adaptation to new administrative formalities, picked up in the second quarter.”

Lorry traffic dipped by just 3 per cent from the level in the first half of 2020, with a 21 per cent drop in the first quarter followed by a 23 per cent gain. It was still down 20 per cent from the pre-pandemic level in the first half of 2019, however.

The company said it was impossible to provide any performance forecasts “as long as the governments fail to take a stable long-term position on international travel restrictions”. — AFP

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