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Airbnb Bookings Jump 52% As Travel Rebounds

Airbnb (NASDAQ:ABNB) beat analysts’ estimates for bookings in the first quarter as travel begins to rebound around the world with the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions.

The San Francisco-based company, which went public last December, reported $10.3 billion U.S. in gross bookings in the three months ended March 31, a 52% increase from the year earlier period and well beyond the $7.57 billion U.S. that analysts had expected.

Airbnb’s revenues rose 5% to $887 million U.S., also beating analyst’s projections. The company’s share price fluctuated in extended trading after closing down 3.2% at $135.75 U.S. on Thursday (May 14).

The surprisingly positive results reflect a big upswing from a year ago, when Airbnb’s bookings plunged 80% after the pandemic shut down most of the world. Travel was one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic, but Airbnb saw a swifter recovery than its peers when people started abandoning their city homes in favor of longer stays in rural rentals.

Some analysts now expect Airbnb’s bookings to return to pre-pandemic levels by this summer.

Before the pandemic, alternative accommodation, or non-hotel type lodgings that Airbnb specializes in, was the fastest growing segment of the travel industry and it’s now leading the rebound.

Almost 60% of Airbnb’s quarterly revenue came from the U.S., where vaccines are widely available, the company said. Guests are taking advantage of remote work policies and choosing to travel to non-urban areas and stay longer: Nearly a quarter of Airbnb’s bookings in the first quarter were for stays longer than 28 days, an increase of 14% from pre-pandemic 2019.

Releasing financial results for the second time as a public company, Airbnb reported a net loss of $1.17 billion U.S, or $1.95 U.S. a share, significantly higher than the loss of $341 million U.S. a year earlier. Airbnb said the wider loss was due to the repayment of debt the company took on during the pandemic.

In April 2020, Airbnb lined up about $2 billion U.S. in debt financing to help it grow and pay bills while travel demand was depressed by the COVID-19 pandemic.