Travel Online: Booking Holdings Reports Rebound in Vaccine-Induced Travel to US and UK as Asia Lags
Shares of the online travel agency were slightly higher in extended trading on Wednesday, as optimism over its weaker-than-expected quarterly loss was tempered by a lackluster outlook for international travel.
Booking has warned that it would take years for a full recovery in international travel, as governments can be cautious in opening borders to tourists.
“While the pace of vaccine distribution remains hopelessly slow in most parts of the world, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States are benefiting from successful vaccine distribution programs,” Chief Executive Officer Glenn Fogel said during of a post-benefit call.
“In each of these countries, we have seen encouraging booking trends, confirming our view that vaccine distribution is the key to unlocking pent-up travel demand. ”
Booking also highlighted strong growth in domestic overnight stays in Russia and Australia. Booked airline tickets were up 49% in the first quarter compared to 2019, thanks to strong growth in the company’s Priceline, Booking.com and Agoda brands.
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As demand in Europe improved sequentially, the travel agency saw trends ease towards the end of March, driven by new travel restrictions.
In Asia, the drop in overnight stays worsened in April from the previous month, due to slow progress in immunization and government restrictions to tackle rising COVID-19 cases. Asia was the least recovered region in April.
Gross travel bookings in the first quarter fell 4% to $ 11.9 billion from a year earlier.
Excluding items, the company lost $ 5.26 per share, against analysts’ estimates of a loss of $ 5.87 per share, according to data from Refinitiv.
Total revenue fell 50%, while the net loss was $ 55 million, or $ 1.34 per share, in the quarter ended March 31.