WEBJET’S half-year result demonstrates a “spectacular turnaround” from the previous corresponding period, according to CEO John Guscic, with the company’s WebBeds B2B accommodation division leading the recovery.
The company reported a $72.5 million EBITDA from underlying operations (which excludes non-operating expenses such as share-based payment expenses and interest on Webjet’s Convertible Notes finance facility) – compared to a loss of $15.9 million for the same period in the 2022 financial year. Overall transaction numbers recovered to 3.4 million in total for the period, which was 101% of pre-pandemic levels, while TTV of $2.143 billion was 90% of the amount before COVID-19 hit.
The result “underpins the efforts we took as soon as the pandemic hit to ensure each business was optimally positioned to recapture demand once travel returned,” Guscic said. “Recovery is substantially accelerating and WebBeds is leading the charge,” he added, with all regions showing significant organic growth, particularly Europe which benefited from a strong northern hemisphere summer, and North America which is trading at three times the level of before the pandemic.
Guscic noted that search activity and conversions via the WebBeds platform continue to increase, while margins are higher than pre-pandemic levels. “Despite a number of large markets yet to open, since May WebBeds bookings have exceeded what they were before the pandemic hit, and profitability is getting close to pre-pandemic levels,” he added.
The online travel agency operations of Webjet also significantly increased in profitability during the six month period, Guscic confirmed. “Even with limited international capacity and higher airfares, bookings were 79% of what they were pre-pandemic, reflecting Webjet OTA’s strength in servicing the domestic travel market,” he said, claiming that prior to the pandemic Webjet was “one of the most profitable online travel agents in the world”.
“It is exciting to see the company emerge from the pandemic more agile, more efficient and better placed to deliver growth than ever before,” he said. The WebBeds business is no longer European summer-centric, picking up share in all regions and operating a single technology platform with the capability to scale rapidly. Guscic also noted that the recently acquired Trip Ninja technology went live on the webjet.com.au site in October, offering “enormous potential to increase our share of the international flights market”.