The UK government has been called on to play a bigger role in securing Eurostar’s long-term future amid growing uncertainty for international travel. But ministers said Eurostar shareholders must “fully exhaust all options” to protect its future.
The bailout announced last month consisted of £ 150million in shareholder guaranteed loans, £ 50million in additional shareholders’ equity and the restructuring of £ 50million of existing loan facilities.
But Paris is worried about the UK’s position and called on ministers to commit to a funding guarantee, following a second indication of no aid.
Officials in the French government, which owns 55% of Eurostar through state-owned rail operator SNCF, said the UK “has a responsibility” to help Eurostar weather the crisis.
Chiefs have warned that Eurostar is “fighting for its survival” due to the COVID-19 pandemic causing a huge drop in passenger demand.
Mr Damascus added: “Since the start of the pandemic, our turnover has been divided by twenty on average. “
But he stressed that the £ 250million funding was an ‘oxygen balloon’ that could allow the company to survive until spring 2022.
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Speaking in the House of Commons, Transport Minister Robert Courts added: “The ministry fully expects Eurostar to continue to be a very successful and profitable company carrying record passengers once the international travel will have resumed.
“The government welcomes recent announcements from the company, its shareholders and lenders regarding a new financial package.
“We will continue to engage with Eurostar to fully understand the company’s position, but we expect shareholders – including majority shareholder SNCF, the French public railway – to fully exhaust all options and play fully their role. “
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The Labor MP added: ‘The Minister knows there has been a real threat to Eurostar’s survival and UK business leaders and the chairman of the Select Transport Committee have all called on our government to be part of the solution.
“Eurostar is not only a vital service, but contributes to our net zero program.
“So when we are in a climate crisis as well as a Covid crisis, does the minister think it is right for the government to give billions in loans and guarantees to air travel, but risk going bankrupt? ?
Eurostar announced this week its intention to increase its London-Paris connections by the end of June to three times a day.
The third service will operate from Monday to Saturday inclusive from June 28.