End of duty-free hits tunnel traffic

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The Independent Online

The abolition of European Union duty-free sales has taken its toll on passenger numbers travelling through the Channel Tunnel, operator Eurotunnel said today.

The abolition of European Union duty-free sales has taken its toll on passenger numbers travelling through the Channel Tunnel, operator Eurotunnel said today.

Passenger traffic fell 12% in the three months to September 30 against the same period last year.

The slide was in line with falls seen by cross-Channel ferries and hovercraft on the rival sea routes.

But the tunnel gained ground against the ferries on lorry traffic, notching up a 19% increase against the average rise of 16%.

Revenues from shop sales fell by 74% - from £45.2 million over the same period last year to just £11.1 million.As well as the decline in duty-free sales, this reflected airports operator BAA's move to take over running the shops in July.

Eurotunnel also today announced detailed terms of its plans to issue new shares to raise money for restructuring its debts.

Shareholders will be offered the chance to buy three new shares for every 22 they currently own.The new shares will be priced at 65p - a substantial discount on todayÿs stock market price of 82p a share.

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