World Travel's break-even delayed

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The Independent Online

World Travel Holdings, the online travel business that bought Sir Bob Geldof's, expects to hit profitability this year after the events of 11 September delayed its break-even date.

The company, which sells discount flights through its consumer and trade divisions, said all areas of business were still operating at lower levels than prior to the terrorist attacks.

However, John Biles, the executive chairman, said January looked "quite cheering" after a seasonally quiet fourth quarter. "We are hopeful of being profitable for 2002 but ultimately we are dependant on how the travel industry behaves," he said.

Despite achieving a profit last August, World Travel reported losses of £1.26m for the three months to 30 September 2001 compared with losses of £1.42m a year earlier. It had hoped to report a profit in the third quarter. Turnover rose by more than 500 per cent to £858,000 reflecting a surge in commission income.

Mr Biles said the Cardiff-based company, which relies on transatlantic fares for more than two-thirds of its business, had slashed costs by £3.6m.

He said with cash reserves of £2.6m, boosted by a £2m equity fundraising drive, the group had enough funds to continue trading. As a director of World Travel, Sir Bob, the former frontman of The Boomtown Rats and successful entrepreneur, is still the mastermind behind the deckchair brand, which he launched in April 1999.

He holds 3 per cent of World Travel's shares, unchanged yesterday at 2.25p.