France’s rail company SNCF in trouble and will seek help from state aid after €2 billion loss

French rail company SNCF taking bookings for summer travel.

FRENCH rail company SNCF are to seek aid from the government and look likely to make job cuts after taking a severe hit from the Covid-19 crisis, said its CEO, Jean-Pierre Farandou, on Saturday.

Since the lockdown began on March 17 the pandemic has already cost the firm €2 billion.

On the grounds that the company has accumulated “too much debt” the prospect of state aid propping it up “doesn’t seem unreasonable”, he continued and added that it wouldn’t be “illogical” to cut jobs due to the drop in customer demand.

However, after France begins to ease out of lockdown on May 11, Farandou said that 100,000 staff will be working to ensure that “50 to 60 per cent” of France’s trains are running and he expects all trains to be operational by the beginning of June.

The group has kept only 7 per cent of its high-speed trains and 20 per cent of regional services running since mid-March.

While France’s its economy has gone into recession with a 5.8 per cent GDP drop in the first quarter, the country has managed to bail out struggling national champions, including a €7 billion package for Air France and €5 billion for Renault.

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Damon Mitchell

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