As a businesses in the travel industry we have really felt the financial cost of Covid-19. A year after the pandemic first struck, our turnover has declined by £200,000. For an SME, it is a significant amount. In contrast, February 2020 was a good month, in fact it was the third best month in our fifteen-year history. We honestly thought 2020 was shaping up to be a good one.
Reviewing the current position, our February 2021 invoices are just 15% of what they were a year ago. Primarily, we are an airport transfer provider for business passengers and the aviation sector has been battered by Coronavirus restrictions. The news is only reinforced by London Heathrow Airport announcing a £2 billion loss. However, it does feel as if demand for travel is currently stable.
Bookings Down, Values Up
Despite fewer bookings, our average journey value is higher. This is largely due to Manchester International Airport having barely any flights. Business passengers who still need to fly are now doing so by using our London Heathrow Chauffeur service. They want to fly direct to a destination with no transition airport in between. We have also been to London Gatwick Airport recently – a four-hour car journey from Wrexham.
Gratefully, to help with the pandemic DrivenByQ has received financial support from the Welsh Government. In addition, furlough payments have been crucial. Thankfully our funds are holding up and final payments on vehicle finance are in sight. The focus now, is on the shape of a recovery and whether the cost of Covid-19 will be protracted in the travel industry.
In the last twenty years, two other major events impacted dramatically on the aviation sector. The first was 9/11. The second was the financial crisis. Both required two-years to see a full recovery take place. There is also a new world of online meetings to contend with and whether people have any appetite for travel. The lasting cost of Covid-19 really is still unknown.
As the vaccination programme proceeds, some normality may resume but the cost of Covid-19 will likely linger. Like many businesses, DrivenByQ relied on the UK Government’s Bounce Back Loan. It will need repaying. Gladly we are using the funds sensibly and carefully. Who knows, we may even see a return on our investments, especially when considering an optimistic five year strategy.