ebookers Defies Travel Slump

Ebookers.com has joined the round of dot.com operations to report brisk trade despite the travel industry downturn stemming from the 11 September attacks.

The online travel agency, which three weeks ago warned of a “substantial” sales slump and the axing of up to 20% of jobs, on Wednesday revealed that it had nearly reached breakeven point.


In a statement ahead of an official results statement on Monday, the firm revealed underlying losses of £500,000 in the third quarter, compared with £5.7m in the three months before.


By one unorthodox accounting measure, which includes gains on foreign exchange operations, Ebookers recorded a £200,000 profit.


The news sent shares in the firm soaring by more than 20%.

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The announcement comes two days after rival Expedia.co.uk revealed the results of a survey showing that 9% more Britons were willing to travel than before the US strikes on Afghanistan.


US-based parent company Expedia.com reported a “steadily recovering travel business”, while the UK`s Lastminute.com has said it does not expect a significant drop in takings following the attacks.


Costs cut

Dinesh Dhamijah, Ebookers` chief executive, credited the dot.com`s resilience to “aggressive management of costs”.


The firm three weeks ago revealed it was to axe 10-20% of staff among “decisive measures” to reduce outgoings following the terror attacks.


He also said the firm`s business model, which is based around negotiating discounts from airlines, was largely behind the improved results.


In the City, Ebookers shares stood 15p higher at 113.5p in afternoon trade.


Earlier, the shares hit 120p, a rise of almost 22% on the day.


“It is a positive sounding statement, and investors have reacted well to it,” a market maker said.

www.ebookers.com


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