HELLOWORLD Travel Limited’s 2020/21 results reflected the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a roller coaster of TTV as borders closed and opened throughout the year. The overall $49.5 million pre-tax statutory net loss was the result of “very tight cost management across all our business divisions,” according to CEO Andrew Burnes.

Helloworld’s workforce was slashed from 1,578 people to just 885 during the 12 month period, with the remaining staff working reduced hours or placed on stand-down. The remnant was less than half the 2,150 personnel on the Helloworld team at 31 December 2019. However “across our business divisions, Helloworld has maintained an outstanding network of leaders and business development personnel who are working on our post-COVID-19 strategies for 2022 and beyond,” Burnes said.

As well as the staff cuts, key cost reduction achievements also included lowering occupancy costs through renegotiations with landlords, and eliminating a wide range of discretionary variable expenditures across the business. “The focus remains on cost reductions due to significant lockdowns in Australia and New Zealand,” the Helloworld CEO added.

The results announcement included a detailed breakdown of Helloworld’s retail networks across Australia and New Zealand (see HERE), with many business owners consolidating outlets and scaling businesses down into home-based operations until international travel resumes. While some Helloworld agencies had chosen to cease trading altogether, almost all had “done so in an orderly and professional manner and in accordance with their legal and financial obligations”.

Total transaction value was down almost 80% on the previous year, which had itself been impacted by three months of pandemic-era trading. However there is light on the horizon, with the report citing expectations that state borders would be largely reopened by Christmas. “With our long track record in domestic travel in Australia and New Zealand, open borders between our States and trans-Tasman is sufficient to generate break-even TTV levels across our business,” Burnes noted.

“As international borders re-open and cruising in both Australia/New Zealand waters and then beyond comes back we expect to see very positive trading conditions evolve throughout 2022 and beyond. This will be greatly helped by the resilience of our retail travel agency networks who have made it through so far and will come out the other side of this pandemic stronger than ever.”