Bus and train operator Stagecoach has announced a significant increase in its available liquidity to over £800m due to positive cash flow and new borrowing capacity as it warned of a 'lasting effect' of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel patterns. In a trading update for the period since 3 April 2020, Stagecoach announced that the available liquidity of £814m is £308m higher than reported in its statement of 3 April, mainly as a result of its recent issuance of £300m of commercial paper as an eligible issuer under the UK government and Bank of England's COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility. The company estimated that its adjusted earnings per share for the year ended 2 May 2020 will be between 12.5p and 14.0p, and reported that commercial sales at its local regional bus operating companies are now at around 17% of prior year levels. The company also said that it had plans in place to increase regional bus vehicle mileage closer to pre-COVID levels in the near future, versus the current 40% of pre-COVID levels. Chief executive Martin Griffiths said: 'We see a lasting effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel patterns with an acceleration in trends of increased working from home, shopping from home, telemedicine and home education. 'We anticipate that it will be some time before demand for our public transport services returns to pre-COVID levels and we are planning for a number of scenarios.' Stagecoach said that in recognition of its strong liquidity position, it had increased its planned 2020-21 capital expenditure by £14m from that previously announced, to include additional vehicles available for delivery in the short-term.
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