Extension of loan repayment breaks – Crucial for the survival of the Bus/Coach sector – CTTC

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The Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC) is today (2 September) calling for the current loan moratorium by financial institutions to be extended for a further six months to give its members a chance to survive and recover. 

The CTTC has stated that with limited income coming into the industry, the loan moratorium needs to be extended beyond the current six-month period, which is set to expire next month. The CTTC is Ireland’s largest representative body for coach touring companies and private bus operators.

Commenting on the ongoing issue, John Halpenny, Chairperson of the CTTC, said: “Our sector, which has seen a dramatic decline in business since the pandemic began, needs liquidity right now and an extension of the loan moratorium will go some way to assisting members in the uncertain months ahead.”

“The forbearance/moratorium by financial institutions needs to be extended further, with no adverse impact on the credit rating of the business. This is particularly important for bus and coach operators, as the capital investment required is significant, with the price of coaches costing up to, and in excess of, €300,000 and accessible service buses €160,000. Consequently, debt levels in the sector are greater than in similar scale and type businesses.”

“With Government advice continuing to impose rolling travel restrictions and recommending the public to avoid public transport, our members are particularly severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Coach tourism, for example, has virtually ceased and the numbers of passengers on scheduled services has drastically reduced. As a result, operators are faced with significant financial difficulties. With limited income from scheduled services and virtually no income from coach tourism until the Summer of 2021 at the earliest, a further loan repayment freeze is critical. Indeed, a freeze should be left in place for as long as operators are experiencing a reduced income due to COVID-19.”

“The seriousness of the situation is reflected in the fact that over 90% of bus and coach operators have been in touch with their Banks and Financial Institutions because of COVID-19. Of those, 90% have sought to change the terms of vehicle loans.” 

“With the economy set to return on a staged basis, demand for scheduled services will return to pre-COVID-19 levels. However, Government must be aware that our industry is at a virtual standstill and with little working capital, supports such as the continuation of the loan repayment break is essential for the industry to survive this crisis.”