Belfast Telegraph

National Express coach passenger numbers down after Brussels attacks

Transport giant National Express said it saw a "notable" drop in coach passengers after the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels.

The bus and rail group said demand was weak throughout April after the Brussels bombings in late March, when co-ordinated attacks at the city's main airport and a metro station killed more than 30 people.

But despite the impact, underlying UK coach revenues rose 4% in the first four months of the year and passenger numbers rose 6%.

The Birmingham-based group added that demand for coach travel was beginning to recover and it expects coach revenues to pick-up over the second quarter.

Transport firms have revealed the impact of the series of terrorist attacks across Europe, with rival Stagecoach cutting its full-year earnings forecast in December as rail and coach sales suffered in the wake of the Paris attacks on November 13, which killed 130 people.

But National Express said group-wide revenues rose 11% overall in a "strong start" to the year, boosted by i ts new rail business in Germany.

It said with the benefits of the new German business and other recent acquisition stripped out, revenues rose 4%.

The group, which moved into Germany's lucrative rail market in December, grew turnover across all its divisions, with underlying passenger growth of 3%.

Nat ional Express has been given a boost by fresh inroads into the international market, including the rail service deal in Germany and a bus contract in Bahrain.

In its latest update, the group said it was eyeing other "emerging opportunities ".

Dean Finch, group chief executive of National Express, said: "O ur new businesses in Germany and Bahrain are already carrying millions of passengers."

He added: "It is these successes that convince us that our strategy of diversification into new markets in a measured way, when the conditions are right, remains the right one."

It said the German rail operations had carried more than six million passengers since the start of 2016, while it has notched up over a million passengers every month on its Bahrain bus services.