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Eurostar sales hit £168.1 million in Q1

UK.WEBTRAINS.NET
05/07/2009 AT 07:46

Both sales revenue and traveller numbers were significantly affected by the restrictions on Channel Tunnel capacity following the fire on a Eurotunnel shuttle train last September, and the consequent reduction in Eurostar services. The global economic downturn has also had a particular impact on business traffic with demand reducing and customers down-trading.

However, following the full opening of the tunnel on 23 February, Eurostar was able to resume full promotional campaigns in its three core markets which has already lead to a significant increase in leisure sales. Indeed, set against a challenging economic environment, leisure sales were up 2.2% in a first quarter which had just five weeks of full service operation. In France and Belgium one of the key factors in stimulating travel has been the favourable exchange rate for euro-zone visitors to London and other parts of the UK.

Overall, business sales were down around 20% compared with January to March last year due to the combined affect of the capacity and operating restrictions in the Channel Tunnel and the global recession.

The return to normal operations through the tunnel enabled Eurostar to achieve punctuality of 96% between 23 February and the end of March and compares with an average punctuality of 79% on the air routes with which Eurostar competes.

Richard Brown, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said: “The downturn may be depressing business travel but it is having the opposite effect on the leisure market, with more people wanting to get away from it all to relax, recharge the batteries and spend time with loved ones.

“Our recently commissioned research shows travellers want transparent pricing and good value fares when they're researching leisure breaks. They are fed up with extra charges, and they want the industry to be more honest about the real cost of travel.

“The fares offered on eurostar.com and at Eurostar terminals are all inclusive, with no extra charges for check-in, seat reservations, booking fees or paying with credit cards. In the UK our lead-in return fare of just £59 has remained unchanged since March 2003.

Richard Brown added: “Like other businesses, we must reduce our costs to meet the new economic realities. We are also preparing for the challenges and opportunities of on-rail competition from January 2010. We are determined to continue growing our markets and we will be fully ready to compete head-on with any new competitor on our routes.”

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