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Booking says travel travails cut into July growth, bullish for long term

·2 min read
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(Reuters) -Online travel agency Booking Holdings Inc said growth moderated at the start of the current quarter as global flight cancellations and long waits at airports deterred pandemic-weary travelers.

Shares of the company fell 3% in the extended trade, highlighting higher hopes from investors on capturing demand for what is expected to be a blockbuster summer travel season.

Booking's peer, vacation rental Airbnb Inc, also flagged moderate reservations on Tuesday and forecast current-quarter bookings similar to the previous one.

Major U.S. carriers, battling with operational challenges and staff shortages, had canceled thousands of flights over the four-day Memorial Day weekend that marks the traditional start of the busy summer travel season.

Commenting on the impact, Booking Chief Executive Officer Glenn Fogel said, "It's not that important because we're talking for the long run."

Booking expects record current-quarter revenue showing confidence in the faster-than-expected recovery despite rising air fares and hotel tariffs.

Easing restrictions and pent-up desire for travel accelerated demand for hospitality as travelers resumed taking vacations, driving prices for hotel rooms higher.

The company, which reported a 57% increase in gross travel bookings, saw higher international reservations as consumers traveled to their favorite tourist spots in Europe and North America.

The travel website, which looks to take a bigger share in the hot travel market, said it is working on options that will allow customers to pay in their own currency, to shield itself from exchange rate influences.

Revenue for the quarter ended June 30 rose to $4.29 billion, but missed analysts' estimate of $4.32 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES.

Excluding items, profit was $776 million, or $19.08 per share, beating estimates of $17.57 per share.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)