Annual results from corporate travel booking platform Serko reveal a sector decimated by  COVID-19 with the recovery time frame exceptionally uncertain.

The company predicts the Australasian market could still be operating at just  40% of previous volumes by March 2021 – nine months from now. As for the US and Europe – forget about it.

Serko recorded a net loss for the 12 months to March 31, 2020, of -$9.4m compared with a profit of $1.6m the previous year.

It’s burning cash at around $2m a month but well set on the capital front with almost $40m in the bank at May 31.

The outlook for booking volumes is grim.

“We anticipate our core Australasian markets will be operating at 40% to 70% of their pre-COVID activity levels by March 2021,” the company said.

“Beyond that we are taking a conservative approach to growth as most industry reports indicate a slow and, and largely unpredictable, return to full pre-COVID activity levels.”

Until the pandemic hit Serko had been trading well.

But by late February, bookings began to stutter.

“By the end of March 2020 daily transaction volumes had declined by 90% compared to the equivalent days in March 2019,

“Travel volumes have gradually started to recover in May with the easing of domestic travel restrictions in New Zealand.

“We are yet to see any material increase in domestic travel in Australia.”

In North America Serko said “transactions have effectively ceased due to the lock down restrictions in this market”.

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