Saga Says Its Travel And Cruise Businesses Will Resume Operations Later This Year As It Records Results For Year That Ended On January 31, 2021
British over-fifties holidays group Saga has said that its tour and cruise businesses will resume operations later this year after cutting 36% of its workforce as it deals with pandemic-led travel disruptions.
Saga recorded a stronger than expected annual profit, as lower motor insurance payouts during lockdowns offset losses in its over-fifties tour and cruise operations.
The British company, which was hit hard last year by a shutdown of cruises globally and collapse of other travel, said that it is ready to resume its tour and cruise businesses this year after suspending them in March of 2020, with timing subject to government restrictions.
"Customer demand remains strong, with evidence of significant pent-up demand from customers ready to travel," Saga said.
Saga plans to launch its Spirit of Discovery cruise at the end of June, with the route planned around the Scottish Highlands and Shetland Islands.
"We expect strong demand for ocean cruise ex-UK as a sub-set of the booming staycations market," Peel Hunt analysts wrote in a note.
The company's total cruise bookings stand at £154 million for the current and next fiscal year combined, versus the £128 million at the same point last year.
Saga made a profit of £17.1 million pounds on an underlying basis during the 12 month period that ended on January 31, with its insurance business bringing in earnings of £134.6 million during the year. Its travel segment lost £78.5 million.
The total earnings compare with a profit of £109.9 million reported a year earlier and surpassed the £9.8 million analysts' consensus as per company-supplied estimate.
The owner of Saga Holidays and Saga Cruises, which did not provide earnings outlook for the current year, had to secure a debt waiver in March after a cash call last year to get through the health crisis.
Previous Planned Cruise Restart Month
It had earlier planned to restart its cruises in May, taking measures including mandating vaccinations for its travellers after customer feedback, cutting guest capacity and having a multi-layer COVID-19 testing to attract people.