National Express reports demand in excess of 2019 levels

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National Express Group has issued a trading update for the period from 1 July to 30 September. It reveals that UK revenue grew 30% in the period, largely driven by very strong growth in the group’s core coach operations where revenue more than doubled year on year. Occupancy increased by nearly 20% year on year to 78% and yield was up 21% versus 2019.

The group said its ability to react quickly to events meant that it was able to provide more services during rail strikes, and that it was proud to play a part in supporting the Metropolitan Police during the Queen’s funeral. On several of its core UK inter-city corridors, National Express says it is now seeing demand well in excess of 2019 levels.

The update shows that commercial patronage on the group’s UK bus services in the West Midlands continues to improve and is now running at around 90% of 2019 levels and up 24% year on year. The Bus Services Improvement Plan (BSIP) funding of £88 million over three years has allowed TfWM to announce frozen fares, and for National Express to seek to maintain its comprehensive network as passenger numbers recover.

International highlights include revenue at Spanish subsidiary Alsa up 35% year on year, while the group’s North American business has seen an 11% rise, and its German operations a 63% increase. Ignacio Garat, Group Chief Executive, said: “I am pleased to report sustained momentum across the Group and another period of operational progress and revenue growth. We continue to see strengthening passenger numbers in our coach businesses in the UK and Spain, and we are focused on meeting our driver recovery targets for the full year in our North America school bus division.

“We are well positioned for the current inflationary environment with long-term supply contracts, fuel hedging, and a proven ability to pass through price increases over time. While we are mindful of the challenges we face in our sector,
we are confident in our Evolve strategy and look forward to making further progress.”

National Express says its full year results for 2022 are anticipated to be broadly in line with expectations.

Bruce Coaches of Salsburgh has the contract to operate the lengthy Scotland to London services. Caetano Levante 2 BW67 EVR is seen departing London for Glasgow on service 590, with a number of smart tweaks including white wheels and additional gloss black added the the front of the vehicle. RICHARD SHARMAN