Government ministers suggested the company should look to shareholders – including the state-backed French rail company – to resolve its financial woes. Eurostar faces bankruptcy following a collapse in revenues after passenger numbers drop 95% during the pandemic. Britain has reportedly taken a firm stand against any offer of financial aid to the company.
A UK official told the FT: “The tunnel and the dominant stock are there.
“Someone would take care of them, even if the business collapsed.
“There is no appetite to bail them out at all.”
The government insists that the French state and other private shareholders should step in to save Eurostar from collapse.
Paris holds a majority stake of 55 percent in the cross-Channel transport company via the state-owned SNCF, and Belgium holds five percent.
The UK sold its stake in Eurostar in 2015 to help repay government debts.
Eurostar has loans worth £ 400million which are due by June, although it is suggested the deadline may be extended.
The company urged the government to provide it with bailout funds.
France rejected a similar plea, insisting that it is up to Britain to save the company because it is headquartered in London.
A senior official in Paris said that the government of President Emmanuel Macron also expects shareholders and creditors to go the extra mile before state aid becomes available.
So far, there has been no high-level political contact between France and Britain to discuss the Eurostar bailout.
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And its managing director Jean-Pierre Farandou added: “We are getting closer to the moment when Eurostar has real cash flow problems… by next month, we must conclude these discussions.
“We hope that it will be weeks because the financial situation will be very difficult at the end of May, the beginning of June.
“The Eurostar is even more important after Brexit. It is worth the cost of fighting for Eurostar. Eurostar is strategic, it is geopolitical.