Online travel rebounds as Ebookers readies results

19 Jan 2004

London-listed online travel website has predicted strong full-year 2003 results for March on the back of strong growth in online passenger bookings, particularly in Q4, that will beat analysts’ expectations.

The company, which employs 80 people in Ireland, predicted that Q4 sales will be better than sales for the July to September (Q3) quarter last year, which saw sales jump 98pc to £18.4m sterling. The company’s 2003 full year results are due to be announced on 22 March.

In a statement the company said: “We were pleased with strong online sales growth in the October-December 2003 quarter, that has led to us beating analysts’ expectations of gross sales (total transaction value). The October-December 2003 quarter was a bigger quarter for sales than the July-September 2003 quarter. However, at this stage of our financial reporting process we are unable to comment on financial metrics.

“January has started well, with strong growth in online passenger bookings across most of our businesses. We are also pleased to see a return to a more favourable market environment for long- and mid-haul travel, our key sector, from October 2003,” the company said.

Ebookers CEO and chairman Dinesh Dhamija commented: “In contrast to many of our competitors, Ebookers sells the majority of its products to long and mid haul destinations. In 2003, long and mid haul was affected by the Iraq War, SARS and a European heat wave.

“Recently, however, there are strong signs that the long and mid haul market is bouncing back and our sales are benefiting from this. We are also benefiting from the full assimilation of our February 2003 Travelbag acquisition into our UK operations. Travelbag is a renowned long haul specialist particularly to Australasia and the Far East,” Dhamija said.

Over a year ago the Irish subsidiary of Ebookers announced plans to expand with the creation of 20 new jobs in a new office management project team and European training and business development centre in Dublin. The expansion brought employment at Ebookers Ireland to approximately 80 people.

The company’s Irish business has grown over 300pc year on year since it was established in July 2000 and the company anticipates revenues of €7m this year. More than 50pc of the company’s business comes from companies booking for themselves online and over 30,000 customers subscribe to the company’s fortnightly ezine.

By John Kennedy