Sabre has reported revenue for the first quarter of 2021 at $327 million, almost half that of Q1 2020’s $659 million.
As the pandemic continues to impact the business, Sabre says operating losses were $203 million for the quarter compared to $151 million year-over-year.
The travel distribution and technology provider says the loss was offset in part by the reduction in Travel Solutions incentive expenses and Hospitality Solutions transaction-related costs.
It was also helped by a reduced headcount as part of cost saving measures and a decline in technology costs, a $29 million decline in “restructuring charges related to severance benefits” and a $17 million decline in legal costs to do with the terminated Farelogix acquisition.
Net loss came in at $266 million.
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Sean Menke, president and CEO says: "Global travel trends continue to be reflective of COVID-19 case counts, cumulative and daily vaccination rates and regional travel restrictions. In the United States, part of our largest region, we are encouraged by the accelerating pace of daily vaccine doses administered, as well as the bullish demand comments and capacity plans made by U.S. airline executives.
"We have seen this confidence reflected in our North American bookings recovery. As expected, international markets vary significantly and collectively have been slower to improve than U.S. domestic travel.”
Revenue for the Travel Solutions unit was down 52% to $289 million with operating loss reported as $105 million, compared to an operating loss of $10 million year-on-year.
Distribution revenue declined 62% to $152 million due to lower bookings.
Sabre says global bookings, excluding cancellations, were down 55% compared to 2020, and 75% compared to 2019.
Gross air bookings were down 82%, 77% and 69% in January, February and March compared with the same months in 2019.
Revenue for the IT Solutions business was down 36% to $137 million.
The Hospitality Solutions unit saw revenue decline 29% to $42 million in Q1 with central reservation system transactions down 16% to 18 million.
In hospitality, operating loss was $14 million compared to a loss of $16 million in Q1, 2020.
During a call with analysts, Menke provided more details of its value-based distribution deal announced with Delta Airlines.
He said the carrier was one of the airlines to help with the development of Sabre's recently launched airline storefront adding that the model was about "creating value for the travel ecosystem and helping "airlines sell they way they want."
Menke added that from a commercial perspective the technology should help carriers sell higher yield products and services and therefore yield more revenue for Sabre.
Questioned on NDC development, Dave Shirk, president, Sabre Travel Solutions, said transactions were at a very low level because of the pandemic.
"The majority of airlines that are doing NDC are ones that were very far along before COVID. The vast majority of airlines have paused or completely stopped their NDC activity at this particular point in time because of a pandemic and the resource kit to their organizations and cost containment."
He added that this is why the Delta partnership is significant describing it as "also a very advanced retailing effort."
"That’s the first of the kind to move that piece out, which I think the number of airlines and agencies will find much easier to begin that journey and find alternatives to how they might think about retailing in the environment that’s out there as well."
* Check out this interview with Menke, recorded for The Phocuswright Conference 2020.
Executive Interview: GDS Reinvented … Again - Sabre - PhocusWire - The Phocuswright Conference 2020