Net bookings helpBy Russ Lynch
profits soar 400%
Cheap Tickets Inc.'s second-quarter earnings climbed about 400 percent from a year ago as travel bookings through the Internet took off for the Honolulu-based seller of discount airline tickets.
The company said today that it had a net profit of $3.2 million, or 15 cents a share, in the three months through June 30, up from a net of $644,000, or 3 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter.
"Our Internet business, which we launched in the fourth quarter of 1997, has grown significantly, accounting for 28 percent of gross bookings compared to 6 percent this time last year," said Michael J. Hartley, chairman and chief executive officer.
The company said it sold $148.5 million worth of airline tickets in the latest quarter through its Web site, www.cheaptickets.com. That was a 784 percent increase from $16.8 million in Internet airline bookings in the 1998 quarter.
As of June 30, Cheap Tickets had 1.2 million customers registered to make bookings through its Web site, about 10 times the 121,000 registered a year earlier. The company requires customers to register and establish credit before being able to browse the Web site for bargains.
Meanwhile the company's telephone call-center and travel office business grew strongly as well, Cheap Tickets said. In the latest quarter, it sold $351 million worth of airline tickets through those channels, up 54.4 percent from $227.4 million in the 1998 quarter.
Cheap Tickets gets much of its business from what are called nonpublished fares. These are blocks of tickets for specific flights that airlines have not sold as the departure date gets close. The airlines are willing to sell them at a discount to a specialist who finds customers to fill the seats.