Adds quote from statement, background on industry

March 17 (Reuters)Upper Crust owner SSP SSPG.L launched a 475 million pound ($661.15 million) rights issue and warned that revenue from its train and bus stations would not recover to pre-pandemic levels before 2024 after slashing 14,000 jobs during the health crisis.

The travel food group said on Wednesday it also took other steps to bolster its balance sheet, including extending bank facilities due to mature in July 2022 to January 2024, and waivers of existing covenants.

“The impact of the pandemic on working practices may have a longer term impact on both business travel in Air and commuter travel in Rail,” the company said, as its trading conditions did not improve in the first and second quarters of fiscal 2021.

SSP, whose chains sell food and drinks in airports and train stations, has been hit hard by pandemic-led restrictions that have forced people to work from home and put off leisure trips.

In the four months to Jan. 31, SSP’s cash burn was 120.1 million pounds, it said, adding that it had 420 million pounds in available liquidity.

($1 = 0.7184 pounds)

(Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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