Over 550 coach operators underline need for government support

Over 550 coach operators have reaffirmed the earlier message from the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) that the industry requires urgent government support to prevent it shedding thousands of jobs.

Last week CPT sent a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, warning him that the sector is facing what has earlier been described as “a fight for its future” because of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. CPT says that despite mothballing coaches and subjecting staff to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), operators still face costs of on average £1,900 per day.

Only 2% of coaches that would normally be engaged on tourism-related work are currently being used, CPT figures show. Bookings are not expected to return to normal levels until summer 2021.

The Confederation has already called for a three-point support package. It involves a cash injection of £65m per month, backdated to March; an extension of CJRS beyond its October end date; and confirmation that coach tour operators will be treated as leisure businesses for the purpose of coronavirus COVID-19 support.

The letter additionally points out that with a phased reopening of schools now underway, “there is also the real possibility that without support, there will be insufficient capacity within remaining operators to provide a full home-to-school network when it is required.”

The list of cosignatories runs to almost 11 pages and includes operators large and small from across the four home nations.

CPT first presented the coach industry’s case to government in May. It used the term “18-month winter” to describe the sector’s current predicament.