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Spain's eDreams says bookings well above pre-pandemic level, subscriptions soar

MADRID (Reuters) -Spain's eDreams ODIGEO said on Tuesday the number of bookings made on its various online platforms was rising faster than across the wider industry, boosting its profitability.

Europe's largest on-line travel booking company said bookings during the first half of the company's fiscal year that ends on March 31 were 48% higher than in 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic grounded the global travel industry.

Bookings in October and early November were still a hefty 45% higher than in 2019, despite "adverse macroeconomic trends", the company said.

Chief Executive Officer Dana Dunne and Chief Financial Officer David Elizaga attributed the company's good health in part to higher airline ticket prices spurring travellers to seek out bargains through eDreams.

"In times of economic crisis, conflicts or even natural disasters, the pleasure traveller always showed his wish to keep travelling. Now, it's no different and we expect the surge to continue," Dunne said in an interview, while Elizaga noted that global air tickets sales were still a fifth below pre-pandemic levels.

eDreams was the first travel group to introduce customer subscriptions, a fairly common practice in other industries.

The number of subscribers paying around 55 euros a year for access to cheaper deals stood at 3.8 million in early November, 31% higher than in May.

The company's net loss in the July-September period narrowed to 10.1 million euros ($10.45 million) from 13.6 million euros a year earlier, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 26% to 20.5 million euros.

The company reiterated its 2025 EBIDTA target of 180 million euros, aiming for 7.25 million subscribers by then.

($1 = 0.9668 euros)

(Reporting by Inti Landauro, Editing by Louise Heavens, Kirsten Donovan)