Eurostar is in advanced talks with the UK and French governments as the company looks for a route out of impending financial disaster. The operator, which runs services between London St Pancras and Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, carried 11 million passengers in 2019. But it is believed Eurostar has already faced a 95 percent fall in demand as the coronavirus pandemic continues to make travel restrictions necessary. Eurostar’s annual revenues collapsed from £1billion (€1.1bn) in 2019 to about £180milllion (€208m) in 2020. It has already borrowed £400million (€450m) and received a cash injection of £170million (€197m) from its owners.
Guy Shone, CEO of ExplainTheMarket.com told Euronews last month that the company is running out of time to save itself as reports warned the service is “in peril”.
He said: “Passenger numbers are way down, down well over 90 percent since March 2020.
“So they are looking for financial life support, the same financial life support that has been offered to other industries that have been disproportionately ravaged by the Covid restrictions.”
He also highlighted the ongoing feud between Paris and London over how to save the company, as the UK Government has previously said Eurostar “is not our company to rescue”.
This came despite pleas from politicians in both France and Britain urging the UK to help.
Mr Shone spoke to Eurostar’s previous boss, and highlighted how quickly the prospects for the company have declined.
He continued: “When I spoke to Mike Cooper, Eurostar’s previous CEO, the mood-music was relatively upbeat.
“They were looking to get to grips with the looming spectre of Brexit, but Eurostar was a brand with booming passenger numbers.
“They were really starting to aggressively compete with the airlines, positioning themselves as the greener, more convenient alternative.
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“If this requires funding from both the UK and French governments, then the money must be found. Sustainable travel deserves support.”
Eurostar is 55 percent owned by the French state railway SNCF, 40 percent by infrastructure funds CDPQ and Hermes, and five percent by Belgian railway SNCB.
France’s junior transport minister, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, has tried to engage with the UK Government to reach a deal.
Eurostar chief executive, Jacques Damas, told the Financial Times: “I’m fed up with both governments.”