Visibility is improving for China’s Trip.com Group. As most of the world hunkers down in place, the USD 12 billion online travel booking site reckons it could be through the worst of the virus. First-quarter sales are expected to halve, but CEO Jane Sun also sees a rebound coming at home, where the epidemic may be ebbing. It offers a glimmer of hope in a sea of economic gloom.
Travel has been one of the industries hit hardest by COVID-19. Weak demand, along with the company’s generous refund policies, will hurt the bottom line. Its adjusted operating loss may be as much as about USD 260 million in the first quarter.
Even as international flights are grounded and countries close their borders, the People’s Republic is gradually lifting curbs. Trip.com Group says hotels and airlines across the country are resuming business and it anticipates a quick recovery in domestic tourism. Likewise, smaller peer Tongcheng-Elong earlier this month reported a surge in hotel and flight reservations at the end of February; notably, airline ticket sales for June also have ticked up as travellers look ahead.
Despite the serious risk of a resurgence in cases in China, the company’s clearer outlook is a far cry from peers such as Expedia and Booking Holdings. Both have recently withdrawn financial guidance, citing the pandemic.
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