Eurotunnel in red, sees 2011 pickup

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Eurotunnel, the operator of the tunnel link between Britain and France, announced Friday a 2010 net loss of 57 million euros but said it was confident passenger numbers would top 10 million this year.

Eurotunnel earned a profit of 1.5 million euros ($2.1 million) in 2009 but last year's loss was expected as the company waited for insurance payments covering a fire that disrupted traffic for several months from late 2008.

Eurotunnel chief executive Jacques Gounon said a settlement could be reached this year in talks with its main client, Eurostar which operates train services through the tunnel.

Gounon said he expected Eurostar to carry more than 10 million passengers this year, after an increase of three percent to 9.5 million in 2010, noting an expected expansion of train services.

These new services, including routes into Germany on Deutsche Bahn trains, "represent a (potential) market estimated at between three and four million passengers," he said.

Freight could increase by between four and five percent this year, he added.

Gounon said he was not worried over sales growth, after a gain of 26 percent to 737 million euros last year, noting that higher fuel prices meant ferry service competitors had to impose fare surcharges.

© 2011 AFP

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