Saga has suspended its cruise operations until May 1 following the spread of coronavirus and warned that the move will hit profits.

The travel and insurance specialist said the move follows updated advice from the Government advising people aged 70 and over and those with pre-existing health conditions against going on cruises.

Customers who were due to travel in the next six weeks will be offered  either a full refund or credit for a future departure.  

Saga said that while cancellations had increased in recent weeks, demand for cruises was “very positive”, with bookings of about 80pc of its sales target for the year.

Suspending its cruise operations for the next six weeks would reduce profit in the division by between £10m and £15m.

The firm said that while the travel environment was “uncertain”, it had significant liquidity available, including a £100m credit facility, £33m of cash at the end of February and strong cash generation in its insurance business.

Saga did not expect the outbreak of coronavirus to affect its insurance arm, which has reported a “good start” to the current financial year.

Shares started the year at 54p but fell almosr 2pc to less than 15p on Friday following the recent market selloff, valuing the company at £163m.



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