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On the Beach slumps to loss as travel restrictions send bookings plunging

·2-min read

Holiday firm On the Beach has slumped to a £9.5 million half-year loss after seeing revenues crash by nearly 80% due to international travel restrictions.

The online travel agent said underlying revenues plunged 77% to £12 million in the six months to March 31, from £52.8 million a year earlier, due to cancellations and lower bookings during lockdown.

This saw it swing into the red from underlying pre-tax profits of £2.3 million a year earlier.

The firm stopped selling holidays before September 1 once the traffic light system for international travel was announced in early May due to the potential for disruption and cancellations, instead focusing on future selling seasons.

It said booking volumes for summer 2022 remain low, but are “significantly ahead of normal trading patterns, partially due to the early release of flights for next year by most major airlines”.

Simon Cooper, chief executive of On the Beach Group, said: “The board believes that On the Beach is well-positioned to grow market share as demand for holidays recovers.

“Whilst this recovery is likely to take some time and the consumer environment will continue to be challenging, the differentiating features of our business model, combined with the actions taken during the pandemic, position us very strongly for successful and sustained growth as we move out of this extended period of disruption.”

The group is hoping to grow market share as rivals suffer from another heavily disrupted peak summer season due to the pandemic.

It said: “If summer 2021 volumes do not recover, travel operators will need to sustain further cash burn over the winter.”

On the Beach was forced to tap investors for cash last year, raising £65.1 million through a share placing.

It holds customer money in a ring-fenced trust account, totalling £24.1 million at the end of March, and pledges to refund customers in cash before it receives money back from airlines.

Its results revealed £11.8 million was owed by airlines as at March 31.

The UK’s competition watchdog last week revealed it was investigating British Airways and Ryanair over whether they breached consumer laws by not offering refunds for flights that were operating but customers could not take due to the pandemic.

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