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18/05/2021

Eurostar has managed to secure a £250m rescue package from banks and investors as it continues to battle a severe drop in demand due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The funding will help keep it afloat in the medium term, a spokesperson said.

The rail operator had warned in November that it was "fighting for survival", with its services scaled back dramatically amid the pandemic.

Eurostar plans to gradually run more trains should coronavirus restrictions ease as hoped.

It is currently only running one train per day between London St Pancras and Paris Gare du Nord, and one a day between Amsterdam and Brussels.

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The £250m in funding consists of £50m equity from shareholders, £150m in new loans from banks that are guaranteed by shareholders, and £50m from restructured existing bank loans.

Eurostar chief executive Jacques Damas said the funding "will allow us to continue to provide this important service for passengers".

"The refinancing agreement is the key factor enabling us to increase our services as the situation with the pandemic starts to improve."

Mr Damas added that the coordinated action of governments in the UK and the EU was "crucial to the restoring of demand and the financial recovery of our business".

The operator said that over the past year it "has experienced a more severe decline in demand resulting from the global Covid-19 pandemic than any other European train operator or competitor airline."

18/05/2021

"We run businesses, we can't go on holiday and then come home and self isolate for 10 days."

Last year, Sandra Norman and her family spent nearly £5,000 booking a package deal for a villa in Rhodes for the end of May 2021, to celebrate family birthdays.

But Greece is still an amber-rated country under the government's traffic light system and the advice is to not travel to amber countries for leisure.

Sandra asked the travel agent if they could move the booking to the same dates in 2022.

She says the company refused to move the booking or issue a credit note, so if they didn't go on the holiday then they stood to lose everything.

BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme has been contacted by people who booked holidays last year for summer 2021, or had holidays moved from 2020 by tour operators, who now feel they cannot travel due to government advice.

However, the travel companies are refusing refunds or delays to the holidays.

International travel restrictions for British holidaymakers were eased on Monday. 12 countries or territories have been given a green rating, meaning you can travel to them for tourism. But many tourist hotspots, such as France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Croatia, are amber countries.

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