Booking Holdings, the American parent of Amsterdam-based Booking.com, posted a first quarter loss of $699m as bookings plunged 43% because of the coronavirus epidemic.
However, the figure does not reflect the true impact of the crisis because coronavirus did not really hit until March. In the 2019 first quarter, the company booked earnings of $765m.
‘In March, our reported room nights declined over 100%, meaning we received more cancellations during that amount than new bookings,’ chief executive Glenn Fogel said at the earnings presentation.
‘Looking at things a different way, our newly booked room nights, which exclude the impact of cancellations, were down over 60% year-over-year in March and down over 85% in April. This gives you a clear indication of how much our business is currently impacted by this crisis.’
Nevertheless, Fogel said, there are signs of recovery in some markets, primarily for domestic travel.
Booking.com has been in the firing line for applying for Dutch government support to help to pay its 5,500 workers in the Netherlands. The company is a major employer in Amsterdam with a IT workforce comprising 80 different nationalities.
The application for support to pay staff follows a major share buy-back programme in 2019. The company has also borrowed $4bn on the capital markets in recent weeks.
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