Prolonged travel disruption worsens net loss of Channel Tunnel operator Getlink By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Channel Tunnel operator Getlink, formerly known as Eurotunnel, is seen during the presentation of the company’s 2018 annual results in Paris, France, February 21, 2019. REUTERS / Charles Platiau

(Reuters) – The Channel Tunnel operator worsened its net loss for the first half of 2021, as the extension of travel restrictions in the event of a pandemic and the implementation of new Brexit border controls affected its traffic.

Getlink, which operates the underwater rail tunnel that connects France to Britain, reported a net loss of € 123 million ($ 145 million) on Thursday, compared with a loss of € 79 million over from the same period of 2020.

The number of passengers crossing the Eurotunnel on its shuttles and on Eurostar trains plunged in the first half of the year, as governments extended travel restrictions in an attempt to control the spread of more contagious variants of the coronavirus.

Fewer logistics trucks have also made the passage due to storage of companies ahead of Britain’s departure from the European Union, although traffic resumed in the second quarter.

Getlink’s revenue and core profit fell 12% and 19% respectively – although both exceeded the expectations of analysts polled by the company, while its cash position hit new highs thanks to a strict cost control.

“In this context, I would qualify our results as satisfactory,” Getlink CEO Yann Leriche told reporters, adding that Getlink was investing in the digitization of formerly manual border controls in order to make the crossing more efficient.

“We are preparing for an increase in traffic,” he said. “We saw it last year and we saw it this year – as soon as the travel restrictions ease, people will quickly make a lot of bookings with us.”

However, the group said it could not give financial advice as governments failed to give a stable timeline for the return of cross-border travel.

To contain a fourth wave of coronavirus, the French government announced strict new measures, including the requirement for a health pass on long-distance trains, while Britain extended quarantine rules last week for travelers from France.

($ 1 = 0.8480 euros)

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