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National Express Group announcement: Continental coach travel booms as passengers choose value

Posted in Industry news

Continental coach travel booms as passengers choose budget travel

  • 44% increase in coach passengers to Paris in June 2011 vs. June 2010
  • Ash Cloud was catalyst for coach boom
  • Surge in demand for budget travel from French and American travellers

National Express is laying on around one hundred additional coaches during peak months to meet demand on their London to Paris service – as continental coach travel booms.

Half year results from Eurolines, the European arm of National Express, reveal that almost 100,000 people have travelled by coach between London and Paris so far this year, a 13% increase on 2010. In June, the business experienced a massive 44% growth in passenger numbers. Passenger figures have increased since the 2010 ash crisis, as passengers prioritise cheap fares over journey times.

In a recent passenger poll, over 80% of Eurolines customers confirmed cost was the deciding factor in choosing coach - with two thirds admitting they had considered flying first. In 2011 Eurolines adopted a transparent, ‘all inclusive’ pricing strategy as a direct challenge to budget airlines who’ve continued to confuse customers with additional charges including booking fees and baggage allowance. Passengers booking last minute coach travel to Paris will typically save around 60% compared to flying.

City centre departures have also proved a key benefit of continental coach travel – with almost half the passengers stating that the direct London to Paris service was a key reason for travelling with Eurolines. In comparison the majority of budget airlines now use regional airports to keep down costs, resulting in hefty airport transfer fees for travellers. At present Easyjet depart from Luton and Ryanair arrive at Beauvais – 55 miles from Paris. Eurolines operate ten daily coach services from London Victoria to Paris with an average journey time of eight to ten hours.

John Gilbert, Managing Director, Eurolines UK said,

The Ash Crisis was a catalyst for continental coach travel but we’ve sustained the momentum by offering the best value fares on the market – to the extent that we’re actually carrying more passengers now than during the eruption.  The boom in coach travel has attracted huge numbers of British and French passengers but it’s also seen a dramatic increase in American travellers. Price is the driving factor across the board. 
Undoubtedly the biggest challenge we face is getting people to trial the service. Coach still has a stereotype, but when they’re on board the extra legroom, free Wifi and city centre departures do the talking.

The vast majority of passengers travelling by Eurolines are French and British, closely followed by Americans. Short breaks are the most common reason for travelling, with around 80% of passengers choosing coach for leisure trips.

Eurolines prices during the summer period start from £56 return for London to Paris.

For bookings please visit National Express or Eurolines website.

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