Eurostar cashes in - thanks to ash cloud disruption

Eurostar saw a big rise in international travellers in the first half of this year, with more Americans in particular letting the train take the strain.

by James Taylor
Last Updated: 13 Oct 2014
Most companies in the leisure and travel industry have done nothing but moan about the disruption caused by last year's ash cloud. But for Eurostar, it seems to have proved a real boon: the cross-channel train operator carried 4.7m passengers in the first half of 2011, a 3% rise on the same period last year, as more international travellers opted to ride rather than fly. What's more, it's even fairly optimistic about the short-to-medium term prospects for consumer spending. How's that for a little ray of sunshine...

Eurostar said today that the number of international travellers it carried between January and June was 21% up on the same period last year, including a big rise in US passengers. Chief exec Nicholas Petrovic suggested that the ash cloud was actually a big help for Eurostar, because passengers who would otherwise have flown were forced to take the train instead. And the hope is that once they've tried it, they'll like it so much that they'll keep coming back because of the 'convenience, comfort, and the ability to work on board' (his words, not ours).

All of which provided a welcome boost to the operator's top line: revenues for the period were up 4% to £421m. That's particularly impressive given that last year's equivalent figures were boosted by the extra services it ran to accommodate grounded fliers; if you strip this out, revenues were actually up 12% this year.

Equally encouraging have been Eurostar's summer bookings: Petrovic said demand remained high, with almost a million passengers booked to travel this month alone. He reckons that despite the pressure on household budgets, consumers are 'choosing to prioritise leisure travel over other discretionary purchases'. So apparently we're willing to cut down on some fripperies, but heaven forbid that we give up our weekend mini-breaks in Brussels...

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