SYDNEY, AAP – Travel provider Webjet has reduced its first-half losses as people resume travel in the pandemic.
The company on Wednesday posted a net loss after tax of $61.8 million for the six months to September, improving on the $122 million loss it reported this time last year.
Webjet said customers were making more bookings as states and territories reopened to travel.
Managing director John Guscic credited the financial improvement largely to business-to-business service WebBeds, used by travel agents and tour operators to find accommodation for customers.
Mr Guscic said expanding the service’s presence in North America helped return WebBeds to profit.
Webjet had a cash surplus of $3.5 million per month during the first-half. This compared to an average monthly cash burn of $5.5 million in the past financial year.
First-half sales were $55.4 million, better than the $22.6 million from the same period last year.
Company leaders have tipped a return to pre-COVID sales by the second half of the 2023 financial year.
Shareholders will receive an interim fully franked dividend of nine cents per share. This is the company’s first payout since April 2020, shortly after the coronavirus pandemic was declared.
Webjet this month purchased Trip Ninja, which produces flight booking software for travel agents.
The software helps agents create international trip itineraries. It is expected to help boost sales as more people contact agents about overseas holidays.
In October, Webjet scrapped the cars and motorhomes site Online Republic and replaced it with an improved one called GoSee.
GoSee sales are expected to improve as more people go on driving holidays after Australian border restrictions eased.
Royal Bank of Canada analyst Chami Ratnapala said the earnings were broadly in line with expectations.
Webjet shares on the ASX were up 0.89 per cent to $5.64 at 1519 AEDT.
They traded for a record $12.87 on August 31, 2018.