Airbnb posts $3.9bn loss as lockdowns hit holiday bookings

James Titcomb
·2-min read
A toy umbrella and a figurine on coins asre seen next to the logo of rental website Airbnb
A toy umbrella and a figurine on coins asre seen next to the logo of rental website Airbnb

Airbnb has posted a multi-billion dollar loss in its first set of financial results since the company’s $47bn flotation last year, as it said revenue had continued to be hit by coronavirus lockdowns.

Most of the short-term rental company’s $3.9bn (£2.8bn) loss in the final quarter of last year was down to one-off compensation costs related to its IPO, which was the biggest US flotation of last year.

Airbnb also said quarterly revenues dropped by 22pc year-on-year to $859m as a winter Covid-19 wave led to new lockdowns. The company, which allows hosts to rent out their properties, said it expected revenues to fall again in the first quarter of the year.

Airbnb faced a crisis when the pandemic first hit, but has rebounded better than most travel companies by offering rural getaways and longer-term rentals to people fleeing cities. The company had originally expected full-year sales to halve in 2020, but they fell by just 30pc on the previous year.

Its December float was met by massive demand, and the company’s valuation has soared to more than $100bn, even after a 9pc drop on Thursday amid a wider market sell-off. US companies often report heavy paper losses immediately after going public, since they must record substantial costs related to stock-based employee compensation.

Copy of Airbnb revenues bounce back
Copy of Airbnb revenues bounce back

Airbnb said adjusted Ebitda, a measure of operating profitability that excluded items such as the IPO costs, had improved, from a $276m quarterly loss a year ago to a $21m loss. Airbnb’s chief executive Brian Chesky said it showed the company was “resilient”.

“Our performance in 2020 showed that Airbnb is resilient and inherently adaptable. Travel is coming back and we are laser-focused on preparing for the travel rebound,” he said.

Beyond saying it expected revenues to decline in the first quarter of the year, Airbnb said its future performance would depend on vaccine deployment and how willing people are to travel.