Higher traffic puts Eurotunnel on track with banks

STRONG growth in cross-Channel traffic has led to a 20 per cent increase in Eurotunnel sales in the first five months. The upsurge puts the company on track to meet targets set in its latest debt reorganisation, said Patrick Ponsolle, executive chairman.

The more positive atmosphere was reflected at yesterday's annual general meeting of the Channel Tunnel operator. Shareholders used question time to congratulate Robert Malpas, co-chairman, on his newly announced knighthood rather than attacking him about the state of their investments.

The company said it carried 1.25 million cars in the five months to the end of May. This was double the number during the same period of 1997 when the service was reduced due to the previous November's fire.

The latest figures also compared favourably with the 676,349 cars carried in the first part of 1996, the last period when it was operating normally.

Other services also showed growth. Travel on Eurostar passenger train services through the tunnel rose 14 per cent to 2.49 million passengers while carriage of rail freight was up 18 per cent at 1.35 million tons.

Attracting new business is vital for Eurotunnel to satisfy lender banks, which agreed earlier this year to reschedule payments on its pounds 8.7bn debt.

Mr Ponsolle said: "If current trends continue we should easily meet our objectives for the year or even, as in 1997, exceed them."

He told shareholders assembled at London's Westminster Hall that the abolition of duty-free sales would slow traffic volumes overall across the Channel.

But he believed Eurotunnel's market share would increase because the company was less dependent than the ferry operators on duty-free sales.

There were better opportunities for Eurotunnel to develop shopping schemes in areas like the Coquelles terminal, he said. "We will unveil large scale projects to that end before late summer."

Similar plans were expected for the UK but planning restrictions made this more tricky, he admitted. The company also hoped to benefit from the new BA-led Eurostar management and was taking steps to improve profitability by attacking overheads.

Negotiations were under way to reduce the cost of debt reservicing. Eurotunnel wants to lower the 250 basis points over Libor rate of its senior debt.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat