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Go-Ahead expects passengers to return after lockdowns ease

·1-min read

(Reuters) - UK's Go-Ahead said on Thursday it expected more people to use public transport for work and leisure in the spring as coronavirus-driven restrictions ease, after reporting a 50% drop in first-half profit.

Bus and rail operators took a big hit in 2020 as multiple lockdowns in England brought non-essential travel to a virtual halt and passengers avoided public transport due to fears of contracting the virus.

The company, with transport operations in England, Ireland, Singapore, Germany and Norway, reported a statutory pre-tax profit of 24.6 million pounds ($34.29 million) for the six months ended Jan. 2, compared with 49 million pounds a year earlier.

Go-Ahead said its regional bus division, which excludes London, saw passenger numbers hit a low of 40% in November following new lockdowns.

But with restrictions set to lift later this year, the company said it sees an uptick in passenger number thanks to pent-up demand for leisure journeys including staycations.

"While demand patterns across the day may be different, we anticipate a desire to return to city centres for work and leisure," said Chief Executive Officer David Brown.

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)