Travel Agents

“Travel experiences will be even more treasured”: Helloworld CEO eyes post-COVID future after $70m loss

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

Helloworld Travel CEO Andrew Burnes says the company will be sticking around “for the next 60 years and beyond” despite suffering a $70 million loss during the last financial year.

The full-year, COVID-induced loss included non-cash impairment charges of $67.1 million, and is a fair swing away from the $38 million profit Helloworld enjoyed in FY19.

Underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation declined by 40.1 per cent to $44 million, while revenue fell 21.1 per cent to $282.2 million, and total transaction value (TTV) dropped by 23.1 per cent to a touch over $5 billion.

Over the last three months, Helloworld said its corporate business in Australia and New Zealand has shown signs of recovery, generating 30 per cent of TTV from previous years’ volumes in July 2020. The company expects this to increase from October as state borders open again.

“This, together with other call-centre-related activity, has provided the company with some revenue generation during the COVID-19 period so far,” Helloworld said in its full-year results announcement.

“Within leisure operations, revenue generation has generally been much slower, although we are seeing some revenues from intrastate travel, particularly in WA, Queensland and New South Wales and, for a short period, interstate travel, particularly when the Queensland border was open.”

Helloworld’s Fiji operations remain in hibernation and closed, and the company completed the sale of its US wholesale business on 30 June 2020.

At the end of FY20, Helloworld had a cash balance of $131.9 million, increasing to a cash balance of $174.8 million at 28 August 2020 following the settlement of its successful $50 million equity raise.

The company said it will continue to receive further subsidies for retained employees in Australia via the JobKeeper program, which has been extended to March 2021.

At current staffing levels, Helloworld expects to receive a net benefit of around $20 million in additional subsidies for retained employees between 1 July and 31 March 2021 under current JobKeeper allowances.

Having already processed 90 per cent of outstanding refunds, and with 60 per cent now received and paid out, Helloworld said it would continue work through the billions of dollars of refunds and credits due to customers for pre-booked, pre-paid travel arrangements.

Commenting on the full-year results, Helloworld CEO Andrew Burnes said: “This has been the most challenging period in our company’s history and we are working, like every other business around the world, to manage the responses to this crisis so we can be there when the world starts to emerge from COVID-19 and starts travelling again.

“I believe that travel experiences will be even more treasured when this has ended. People will not hesitate to go and see and do the things they have always wanted to do in the newfound knowledge that circumstances can change very rapidly.

“We are confident that when they can travel, our customers will need the help of their travel professional more than ever.

“We’ve been providing professional travel services to our customers for over 60 years, and we will be there on the other side of this for our customers for the next 60 years and beyond.”

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