National Express reveals staff deaths from coronavirus

National Express has revealed that two of its staff have died after contracting the Covid-19 virus.

In a trading update, the transport firm said it is providing support to both families and that they have its “utmost sympathy”. Both workers, the company said, were “highly-regarded colleagues and will be very fondly remembered by all who knew them”.

A statement said: “Across the Group, we have many colleagues self-isolating and some are receiving treatment for Covid-19. They have our best wishes and any support they require. Our priority remains protecting the safety of our colleagues and customers and we continue to be guided by the government advice in all countries we operate in.

Turning to its performance, National Express said that, in the first two months of the year, it delivered “significant” year-on-year revenue growth of 17%, but that since the coronavirus crisis hit, it has seen a “significant decline” as services have been withdrawn. Nonetheless, overall revenue for the period was still up 8.9%.

The firm added: “We have acted swiftly and decisively to protect the business and made good progress with national governments and customers, as well as cost management across the Group.

“Even in this unprecedented lockdown, we continue to generate positive EBITDA and cashflow.

National Express said that it has improved its liquidity with over £200m in the bank and more than £1bn in undrawn committed facilities, but that the board is withdrawing its recommendation for a final dividend.

Dean Finch, National Express Group chief executive, said: “I would like to pay tribute to our two colleagues who have tragically lost their lives to Coronavirus. They were much respected colleagues and will be sorely missed. We are providing their families with support during this very difficult time. Equally, we pass on our best wishes to other colleagues suffering from the virus and hope for their safe recovery. Our priority remains protecting the safety of our colleagues and customers. I am particularly proud of the excellent work my National Express colleagues are doing during this exceptionally difficult period.

“We continue to make important progress in dealing with the impact of the pandemic across our businesses. We are combining self-help with productive discussions with customers, national governments and relationship banks. We are also determined to play our part by continuing to provide essential services where they are still needed. This pandemic has reinforced the absolutely fundamental and essential role our services play in the communities we serve. With their exceptional actions, governments and authorities have clearly recognised this as well.

“National Express went in to this crisis with revenue up strongly across the Group. I remain confident that we will emerge out of this unprecedented period with our portfolio of strong assets ready to return to delivering industry-leading service to our customers.”