US ATTACK: Bookings down, recovery expected

Ramifications from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 continue to ripple through the business world this week, as the online travel company Priceline.com Inc. reported a 40 percent drop in bookings Monday, and a 35 percent drop Tuesday.

Priceline attributed the drop in bookings -- from levels recorded Monday, Sept 10 -- to reduced customer demand, rampant schedule changes among airlines, and increasing requests for refunds from trips booked before a group of terrorists hijacked four planes, crashing two into the World Trade Center in New York, one into the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and another into a field in rural Pennsylvania last Tuesday.

Priceline expects its business to recover along with the rest of the travel industry, said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard S. Braddock in a statement. The company is already seeing positive signs in its rental car and hotel bookings since the disaster, Braddock said.

U.S. online travel competitor Travelocity.com Inc. also reported a 30 to 40 percent drop in bookings from normal volume last week directly following the devastation in New York, the company said in a statement Tuesday. European Web travel agency eBookers PLC reported 650 cancellations -- mostly of flights to the U.S. -- representing 0.6 percent of total booking for the first six months of 2001, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Priceline also reported revenue of US$245 million for the first two months of the third quarter, and said it now expects total third-quarter revenues to total between $280 million and $300 million. These estimates are down from previous third-quarter revenue expectations of $341 million, and second-quarter results of $364.1 million.

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