Irish Continental Group has reported a drop in revenues and earnings for the first six months of the year amid a challenging background of depressed economic activity and travel restrictions imposed across the EU because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

ICG said this had led to a significant reduction in passenger traffic, however freight activity across the group has been less affected.

Revenues for the six months to the end of June decreased by 21.6% to €130.8m from €166.8m the same time last year, while EBITDA sank by 66.7% to €10m from €30m. 

ICG, which owns Irish Ferries, posted a loss before tax of €11.2m compared with a profit before tax of €24.9m the same time last year. 

The company said the trading conditions faced by the group since March, particularly in its passenger business, have been the most challenging encountered in its 32 year history.

But it said it had maintained services on all its shipping routes and operations at its container terminals despite the outbreak of coronavirus.

Revenues in ICG's Ferries division fell to €61.6m from €92.3m the same time last year, while EBITDA came in at €1.1m compared to €19.7m in the first half of 2019. 

It said it carried a total of 56,600 cars, down 64.9% on the same time in 2019. Total passenger carryings came to 233,900, a decrease of 63.9% on 2019. 

It noted that the decline in carryings mainly occurred from the middle of March following restrictions on non-essential travel related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

ICG said that freight carryings in the six month period came to 149,400 units, a decrease 2.7% over 2019. But it said that carryings have shown a steady improvement from the initial decline experienced following the imposition of Covid-19 measures. 

Meanwhile, revenues in its Container and Terminal Division decreased by 6.6% to €73.2m from €78.4m, while EBITDA fell to €8.9m from €10.3m. 

Containers handled at its container terminals in Dublin and Belfast were down 13.5% to 141,000 lifts from 163,100 lifts in 2019. Dublin Ferryport Terminals' activity was down 11.9%, while activity at Belfast Container Terminal was down 16%.

ICG's chairman John B McGuckian said there are a large number of variables beyond the control of the group around Covid-19 developments creating uncertainty for future passenger travel. 

"However, we are encouraged by the recovering freight volumes since June to date. The group remains in a strong financial position to weather this Covid-19 storm," he said.

He also said that despite the travel restrictions imposed by governments throughout the EU, ICG continued to service all its shipping routes providing critical logistical links to the island of Ireland. 

"These services have also facilitated passenger travel, including returning medical and caring volunteers and technicians to fix vital equipment in our hospitals and care centres and an ability for our citizens to repatriate, where they must do so, to deal with emergencies at home and for those who must travel for essential reasons," he added.