- Bus and train company National Express saw falls in revenue and posted an underlying pre-tax loss as Covid-19 caused passenger demand to plunge, but said that 'swift and decisive' action helped it remain EBITDA positive.

In its half-year results for the six months ended 30 June 2020, the company reported group revenue of £1.03bn, down 22.7% on a year earlier but said it still secured 50% of revenue, despite passenger demand dropping 80% during lockdown.

National Express posted an underlying pre-tax loss of £60.7m, down 175.3m from £114.6m in the prior year period.

Group EBITDA for the period was £88.3m, down £154.7m compared to the first half of 2019, but the company reported that 'swift and decisive actions' generated EBITDA of £13.9m in the second quarter.

National Express attributed a £270m cash inflow during the second quarter to cost cutting, with the suspension and near suspension of UK and Spanish coach operations respectively.

Its pre-pandemic performance was 'particularly strong', with revenue up 17% in constant currency in January and February.

In its half-year results, National Express said it boosted liquidity and secured £1.5bn of new sources of funds since the start of the lockdown, including a £230m placing to strengthen its balance sheet.

The company said while there were 'encouraging early signs of demand' as services gradually restarted, it warned that activity remained at 'suppressed levels'.

Group chief executive Dean Finch said: '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.'

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