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Trip.com shares rise on debut as China braces for busy holiday


China Eastern seeks rerouting due to Covid-19 outbreaks
China Eastern asked approval starting March 31 to move existing twice-weekly Shanghai westbound passenger flights from New York to Fuzhou. Photo: Reuters

(ATF) Online travel platform Trip.com Group shares rose in their debut on Monday in Hong Kong, amid expectations of a busy travel season in China.

Trip.com shares opened 4.8% higher and were last up 3.4% at HK$277.40, compared with their IPO price of HK$268.00 a share.

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The company raised about HK$8.33 billion (US$1.07 billion) in net proceeds from its offering in Hong Kong.

The listing comes as domestic travel in China is poised for further recovery, as more Chinese residents are vaccinated against the coronavirus under an accelerated government rollout.

“This year, travel stocks have done very well, being the best performing theme basket – up 21.3% – even surpassing commodities,” Peter Garnry of Saxo Bank said.

“Travel stocks are of course riding the reopening trades which are bets on parts of the equity market that will do well over the coming year as vaccinations allow economies to open again and increase travelling activity,” he added.

AIRLINES SHOW IMPROVEMENT

Chinese airlines broadly recorded a sharp jump in air-travel demand last month.

China Eastern Airlines said its revenue per passenger kilometre rose 220% after 84% growth in February.

There was strong growth in domestic routes, while the passenger load factor rose 17.4 percentage points year on year to 72.9%,” Kelvin Lau, equity analyst at Daiwa Capital Markets in Hong Kong, said.

“Cargo traffic growth momentum remained strong,” he added.

China Southern Airlines, meanwhile, said its revenue per passenger kilometre rose 174%.

The airlines are also confident in a domestic market recovery despite continued uncertainty over international travel due to border closures amid the pandemic.

Chinese tourists are expected to make nearly 200 million trips over the upcoming five-day holiday starting May 1, which would make it the busiest Labour Day holiday ever in the country, Chasing Securities says.

Trip.com said it plans to use proceeds from the offering to fund its expansion and invest in technology, as well as general corporate purposes and working capital needs.

With reporting by Reuters

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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