Light at the end of the tunnel?
As bad years go for transportation companies, 2009 was one of the worse. For Eurotunnel though, it was the proverbial nightmare with a tunnel fire in September 2008 hampering capacity till February 2009 and the extreme weather conditions during winter making a mockery of the service and hitting the company's revenues hard.
Despite many industry publications, including ourselves, slamming Eurostar and Eurotunnel for their disastrous performance over the last few months the company has managed to still make a profit despite, in their words, the 'poor economic environment'.
While it is GBP£31 million down from the previous year, Eurotunnels's 2009 net profit was still GBP£1.3 million. Eurotunnel were also quick to say profits had been heavily affected by December's snow... no kidding.
Famously in December, Eurostar's services came to a grinding halt as snow forced cancellation all over the continent. The company had to cancel services for three days when snow caused power outages, trapping a total of 2,500 passengers in the Channel Tunnel for up to five-and-a-half hours due to delays. Meanwhile, another 100,000 were stranded all over Europe for the weekend before Christmas, blackening the company's name even more.
The recession has also impact the service with cross-Channel truck shuttling services falling by a fifth since 2007.
However, Eurotunnel's chairman and chief executive Jacques Gounon has been optimistic about the company's performance saying that the fact the company was able to remain in the black was "proof of Eurotunnel's resilience in the face of difficulties".
"Our group has remained profitable in an unfavourable economic context," he said. "This performance shows that the group is in good shape to benefit from the economic recovery, as soon as it begins."
Despite the company's profits, independent reviews have still continued to slam the company's plans over the winter period, saying their contingency plans for helping 'stranded passengers' was 'insufficient' and raises concerns about the company's competence.
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