Interview: Jason Edwards from Edwards Coaches

Fiona Horan interviewed Jason Edwards, Managing Director of Edwards Coaches at the end of June to gain a greater insight into the effect of coronavirus on the coach industry.

How was the company initially affected when the virus arrived in Europe and the UK? Did you have to cancel holidays at short notice and retrieve travellers who were partway through trips? 

‘It came as a shock – especially with lockdown. For the safety of our staff and customers, we closed our business and put everyone on furlough.

We did have customers on holidays with us. The hotels closed, so we had to return home as soon as possible. Some of these tours were only one or two days into their holiday.  The customers understood, but obviously asked for a refund because their tour was not completed.

We have now cancelled all our April, May, June and July holidays. Our customers have been very loyal so we have retained 50% – they have transferred holidays to 2021.’

How has Edwards adapted to the lockdown, if adaptation is possible?

At present all our 300 vehicles are parked up in our HQ depot and our staff put on furlough. We only had 3 vehicles going out daily, which provided transportation to NHS and frontline staff.’

Until recently coach operators were excluded from much of the Government assistance aimed at the travel and hospitality sector. What do you think about the Government response to the pandemic as regards the coach industry?

‘The Welsh Assembly has been very helpful regarding funding. We are now awaiting eagerly to hear about restrictions on travel (5 miles) and social distancing etc.’

How do you see the outlook for Edwards and for the coaching sector more generally?

Edwards are currently looking at restructuring our business, probably with a loss of staff. It is hopeful that business will pick back up but we do not anticipate it being in 2020.

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