Leyland coach firm pleads for more support for industry from Government
A Lancashire-based coach firm has urged the Government to step in and help the industry, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Leyland-based Avacoach provides a coach hire service across the North West and around the UK.
Avacoach was set up around 28 years ago and together with sister companies Avacab Taxis and Ava Travel has seen its summer takings decimated.
It has just been able to resume coach trips after a summer in lockdown and, like many other coach operators, is appealing for help from the Government.
The coach sector in the UK employs more than 45,000 people and has reported a 97 per cent drop in business during the crisis and has been campaigning for financial support from the government.
The industry was told that it was not eligible for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant fund at the start of the pandemic and has been seeking support ever since.
Avacoach recently sent two coaches to London to support fellow coach operators from all over the UK in the “Honk for Hope” rally.
Since March, Avacoach has had 30 vehicles parked up with hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of bookings being cancelled in the last few months.
Last weekend it resumed trips – with social distancing on board reducing capacity.
Kevin Yates, Transport Manager, said that without regular contracts, trips and holidays, highly valuable vehicles were standing idle.
Winter was traditionally a quieter time.
He said: “This year was going to be our best year ever. In the end it has been a write-off.
“It’s a serious situation. We are doing all we can to keep hanging on in there.
"Small family-run businesses are going under. It’s frightening to see.”
Mr Yates urged the Government to rethink its support, or even extend the furlough scheme for the coach industry.
The Government has previously stated that no extra help will be given to the industry.
Avacoach, Avacabs and Ava Travel together employ around 80 people in Lancashire.