The group’s UK rail and bus operation are being subsidised under a government support scheme while many of its overseas operations are either fixed contracts or also being supported.
Revenues in the half-year to end September 2020 fell by 12% to £3.1bn with pre-tax losses of £100.1mln compared to £187.1mln a year earlier.
Operating losses reduced to £16.4mln from £118.1mln, which FirstGroup said was ahead of its expectations due to the government support, tight cost controls and a strong recovery by its US operations.
On an adjusted basis, operating profits were £10.4mln against £88.9mln.
Matthew Gregory, chief executive, said the outlook remained uncertain because of the pandemic but the group had performed ahead of expectations in the first half.
Talks over a sale of its US businesses are ongoing, it added, with a ‘number’ of credible potential buyers said to be interested.
FirstGroup added it had liquidity of £805mln available at the end of the first half.
Separately, the transport group it had agreed to pay an additional £33.2mln to end its South West rail franchise while its Avanti was finishing with no extra cost.