The price of shares in consumer travel business National Express (LON:NEX) crashed 9.23% to 159.75p (as of 14:45 BST) after posting results for the half year ended 30th June. Management said that performance had been good during January and February, but demand and mileage dropped by 80% after lockdown. Financing covenants have been renegotiated until June 2021 and the company has taken steps to cut costs.
CEO Dean Finch commented: “This has been an unprecedented period for us all and I am very proud of the response of colleagues across National Express. We worked quickly to put safety measures in place to protect customers and colleagues. Tragically we have lost valued colleagues to Covid-19 and have supported each family.
“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. Alongside the actions taken to secure additional liquidity, covenant waivers and our recent Placing, the Group has significantly strengthened its financial position to navigate the pandemic. The decisive actions taken by our management team have no doubt secured the Group’s continuing future.
“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“.