National Express issues April trading update

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National Express Group has provided a further brief update on April trading conditions following its post-Covid-19 updates of 19 March and 14 April. The company reports that revenue for April is around 50% compared to the same month in 2019, which it says is in line with the guidance provided to investors earlier this month.

National Express has started selling tickets for a resumed core network serving major cities and conurbations from 1 July. JONATHAN WELCH

Driven by reductions to monthly operating costs of around £100m along with continued support from governments and customers, the company reports that it generated positive EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Aamortization), which was slightly ahead of expectations, and was further boosted by strong cash collections to drive positive cash flow for the month ahead of our expectations. Liquidity has improved since the last update, with around £1.5 billion of cash and undrawn committed facilities available.

Further positive developments as some of the company’s key markets move out of lockdown included:

– A five-year contract win for North America School Bus division after the previous operator had the service removed following Covid-19 disruption;

– Start-up discussions taking place across North America with a large number of school districts, for a return to service at the start of their standard school year;

– In Quebec, Canada, 80% of students signed-up for school buses immediately when schools re-opened;

– At ALSA services and demand expected to increase as lockdown measures being removed in both Spain and Morocco;

– In the Spanish long haul sector, early experience of the lockdown relaxation measures is demonstrating that the operator is able to cover our variable-costs with only 15 passengers on-board.

In the UK, National Express has started selling coach tickets for a 1 July re-start of a core coach network focussed on large and medium-sized conurbations and subject to government advice.