Eurotunnel reports first sales uptick since 2002

16th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 16, 2006 (AFP) - Franco-British group Eurotunnel, which operates rail traffic through the Channel, on Monday reported its first annual increase in sales generated by its shuttle trains since 2002.

PARIS, Jan 16, 2006 (AFP) -  Franco-British group Eurotunnel, which operates rail traffic through the Channel, on Monday reported its first annual increase in sales generated by its shuttle trains since 2002.

Sales from shuttle services rose 3.6 percent to EUR 433 million in 2005 compared with 2004, the group said in a statement, adding that overall sales increased one percent last year to EUR 793 million.

"This result is all the more encouraging as the group's new economic model favors increased operating margins and improved profitability rather than the pursuit of volumes and market share," Eurotunnel said.

It made no reference to ongoing negotiations with creditors on its nine-billion-euro debt.

The company said last week negotiations were continuing and that under normal operating conditions it would be able to meet its contractual agreements until the start of 2007, when the first repayments of its main debt become due.

Eurotunnel said Monday that nearly 16 million people travelled through the tunnel linking France and Britain last year, including 8.2 million carried on its vehicle shuttles and 7.5 million on Eurostar passenger trains.

Truck traffic on the shuttles grew two percent in 2005, accompanied by a substantial increase in yield, it added.

Auto traffic fell three percent in a market with surplus capacity. "This three percent decline should be viewed in the context of a voluntary reduction of about 20 percent in capacity during 2005, which has the effect of significantly increasing shuttle load factors," the company said.

Coach traffic rose by 22 percent.

Revenues from rail transport operators for use of the tunnel were steady at EUR 344 million after EUR 343 million in 2004.

Although Eurostar rail traffic continues to increase, rail freight tonnage, transported by the railway operators EWS (English, Welsh and Scottish Railways) and SNCF Freight of France showed a decline of 16 percent for the year, the company said.

Eurotunnel shares were up 2.94 percent in early trading at EUR 0.35 on a generally weaker Paris market.

The company did not reveal when it would release its earnings figures for 2005. Eurotunnel sustained a loss of EUR 125 million in the first half of the year after running up a shortfall of EUR 152 million in the same period of 2004.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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