Sabre executives reported “accelerating” corporate travel demand in the first quarter as total net air bookings surpassed 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
In the first quarter, Sabre’s distribution revenue increased 126 percent year over year to $343 million, with total net bookings growing to 65 million, that figure 42 percent of the first-quarter 2019 total. Bookings improved every month, starting at 29 percent of 2019 levels in January and growing to 45 percent and 52 percent in February and March, respectively.
While leisure travel still is recovering more quickly than corporate travel, that gap has narrowed as corporate travel recovery has accelerated, Sabre CEO Sean Menke said in an earnings call. Domestic corporate travel recovered to 66 percent of 2019 levels during the quarter while leisure recovered to about 73 percent, he said.
Some of the most active business sectors for corporate travel have been recovering more quickly as well.
“Although still below the total recovery of most other sectors, the financial, consulting and IT sectors, which are historically heavy travelers, ended Q1 accelerating rapidly, faster than at any point since the pandemic started,” Menke said. “These sectors also ended the quarter at their highest levels of overall recovery since the pandemic began.”
Sabre president Kurt Ekert also noted that cancellations slowed in the quarter, which raised Sabre’s average booking fee for the quarter
Sabre’s total revenue for the first quarter was $585 million, up from $327 million in the first quarter of 2021. Its operating loss for the quarter was $80 million, an improvement from the $203 million operating loss in the first quarter of 2021.
Sabre Q4 earnings