The firm reported pre-tax profits of £89.5 million for 2001, down from £109.6 million last year, with full year revenue up 4.2%. Pre-September 11, revenue was up 8.3%.
In the first six weeks of 2002 the firm claims to have seen 'some early signs of a gradual recovery in overall demand', but is still 'cautious' about a complete recovery in corporate demand.
Chairman Alun Cathcart said: 'The group achieved strong growth up to the tragic events of September 11. The fall in demand post-September 11 significantly impacted operating profit. However, we were less affected than most in the travel and transportation sector due to the inherent strength of our balanced business mix and our ability to successfully adjust capacity with minimal one-off costs.
'Revenue trends since September 11 were approximately 5% below prior year. Margins were impacted by the exceptional events in that period but should recover once we see a return to more normalised levels of growth, anticipated in the second half of 2002.
With industry analysts suggesting that in-bound traffic dropped by up to 60% at key European airports, Avis took steps to limit the effects of the downturn, including a reduction in the in costs across its fleet, a freeze in recruitment and a limit on spending.