Travel in India was well on its way to recovery, as Yatra Online posted a 61% sequential increase in revenue in the December quarter. Hotel bookings grew 400% sequentially. Relying on IMF’s prediction that India’s economy will grow by 11.5% in 2021, Dhruv Shingri, Yatra’s co-founder and CEO, said that the company was anticipating travel to grow at about 1.5 times India’s GDP as vaccination becomes more prevalent. “If India follows the path of what many developed countries have done, we can expect to see growth to inflect for travel at the levels even beyond pre-COVID,” Singri said during the company’s Q3FY21 earnings call on February 4.
In terms of capacity, the company said it was back to approximately 80% of pre-COVID levels. Passenger load factors improved gradually and are currently between 70%-72% of pre-CIVID levels. “We believe the capacity could reach close to 100% of pre-COVID levels by the middle of this calendar year,” Shingri said.
Key takeaways from earnings call
- International travel still has uncertainties: Recovery on the International travel front remains “muted,” per Shingri. “This is impacted by border restrictions based on COVID case counts in various countries. Airlines continue to operate under air bubble agreements between countries. We expect the recovery in international to continue to be more gradual and largely dependent on the rate of global vaccinations,” he said. “International, unfortunately, will have these fits and spurts, given what’s happening in different countries,” he added.
- Domestic travel market going strong: The domestic aviation market in India continues to be resilient and is well poised on its path to recovery, according to the company. Its Q3 passenger traffic was up 113% compared to Q2 and December 2020 traffic stood at about 56% of December 2019 levels. Also, the company is expecting to see recovery to continue on the domestic hotel front ahead of the summer travel period.
- Corporate travel to have a bit of a lag: Corporate travel will lag behind leisure travel by around 3-6 months, per Yatra. “But by the middle of this year, given what’s playing out in India, at least I feel on the domestic travel front, corporate travel should be between 65% to about 75% of pre-COVID levels, at least on the domestic travel front,” Shingri said.
- In the December 2020 quarter, the company said it signed corporate travel contracts with ten companies. All of these are “reasonably large organisations”, and one of these would stand out in Yatra’s top 15 customers overall, claimed Shingri. These companies also include some blue-chip multi national corporations.
- However, India’s travel and corporate travel market, in particular, was the fastest-growing travel market globally pre-pandemic with a 12% CAGR and was expected to reach $32 billion by 2022. A large part of the travel market, corporate travel in particular, was off-line pre-COVID. “We expect to see an accelerating shift from off-line to online travel bookings, and we believe we’re already seeing that in our numbers,” Shingri said.
Trends in people’s travel habits
- Shorter high-frequency travel: “We are seeing more shorter, higher frequency holiday travel, especially when it comes to near-term destination,” Singri said. People aren’t taking long haul breaks, are travelling closer to their home towns, just at a higher frequency, he added. “The durations have come down. We aren’t seeing that many 7 days and above kind of breaks happening. So we are seeing more like 3, 4 night kind of breaks, but we are seeing it happening at a much higher frequency,” said Shingri.
- Working from another location: COVID-19 has also led to a number of people working from leisure destinations. “So people renting out home space, renting out alternative hotel accommodations for an extended period of time and working from there, that’s a more newer trend,” Shingri said.
- Revenue: Rs 30.91 crore, down 84.3% YoY
- Adjusted revenue: Rs 60.66 crore, down 61.8% YoY
- Adjusted revenue from air ticketing: Rs 42.85 crore, down 58.1% YoY
- Adjusted revenue from hotels and packages: Rs 10.96 crore, down 48.8% YoY
- Total Gross Bookings (Air Ticketing and Hotels and Packages): Rs 575.81 Crores, down 72.7% YoY