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11 Mar 2021 | 09:07

Go-Ahead lifts full-year expectations

(Sharecast News) - Rail and bus operator Go-Ahead Group reported a fall in first-half profit on Thursday as fewer people used public transport due to the pandemic, but lifted its expectations for 2021 as it expects passenger numbers to recover once restrictions are eased. In the six months to 2 January, adjusted pre-tax profit declined 6.9% to £45.6m, while statutory pre-tax profit slumped 49.8% to £24.6m. Revenue ticked up 3.1% to £2.07bn. Go-Ahead said the increase was mainly attributable to the commencement of operations in its international rail franchises, partially offset by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the group.

Go-Ahead said the performance of its regional bus division, which excludes London, reflected the continued impact of Covid-19 on travel patterns, with passenger volumes down 52.9% in the first half amid varying restrictions. The third national lockdown at the start of the second half of the year resulted in a further reduction in passenger journeys to current levels of around 20% of typical journeys, it said.

Nevertheless, Go-Ahead said its financial performance had been "resilient" and its full-year expectations have increased thanks to stronger profitability in the London & International division.

Chief executive David Brown said: "As the economy opens throughout the spring, we expect to see passengers return, with evidence of pent up demand for leisure journeys, including high levels of staycations. Prior to the second lockdown, our regional bus services were up to 60% of normal passenger journeys, and while demand patterns across the day may be different, we anticipate a desire to return to city centres for work and leisure."

At 0900 GMT, the shares were up 9% at 1,399p.
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