How high will ASX travel shares fly in 2022?

Will travel stocks soar or sink in the new year as Australia tries to figure out what to do with Omicron and other COVID-19 variants?
The post How high will ASX travel shares fly in 2022? appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia. –

No ASX shares have been through more turbulence in the past two years than travel stocks.

The closing of international borders for more than 18 months, plus the constant closing and opening of domestic crossings, has knocked the industry for six. 

Not only has it caused upheaval for customers who have booked trips, the industry is simply missing out on all those Australians who don’t even bother because of all the uncertainty.

But despite all that, by early November, optimism was abundant.

Australia’s international exile ended, most states were reopening — with some declaring “no more lockdowns” — and ASX travel shares like Webjet Limited (ASX: WEB) and Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) hit their 52-week highs.

Then COVID-19 Omicron arrived.

The Motley Fool reported that the month ended with just three out of 12 travel shares on the ASX higher than where they started.

The Qantas share price is now almost 19% off peak, while Webjet has been hammered more than 23%.

So now what? After a November bloodbath, are travel shares ready to roar again in 2022?

Travel shares looking ‘relatively poor’

Unfortunately, Datt Capital managing director Emanuel Datt reckons prospects for travel shares next year are “relatively poor”.

There is just too much uncertainty around how governments will behave, as they’re motivated by political forces as much as health or economic advice.

“Ultimately, the prospects surrounding these businesses all depend on the response of the Australian federal government and the respective state governments during the calendar year 2022,” Datt told The Motley Fool.

“If border closures remain a persistent theme in the new year, then this does not bode well for these companies.”

Unfortunately for the industry, even when borders are open, the extra red tape and costs required of travellers is dampening demand.

“We believe [that] restricts these businesses from climbing back to their pre-COVID revenues, meaning there is likely going to be a period of lower returns going forward.”

2022 is full of anxiety caused by unknowns

Taking Webjet, Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT) and Corporate Travel Management Ltd (ASX: CTD) as proxies for the industry in general, next year is packed with uncertainty.

“Flight Centre may be impacted should social confidence remain low in visiting stores physically, whilst Corporate Travel Management may suffer due to the corporate transition towards easy video conference utilities like Zoom becoming the norm,” said Datt.

“Webjet is likely to be the least impacted due to its strong emphasis on digital sales channels.”

Not unusual for an industry in turmoil, there seems to be some consolidation happening.

Just last week Corporate Travel Management revealed it would acquire consumer travel agent Helloworld Travel Ltd (ASX: HLO) in a $175 million deal.

The post How high will ASX travel shares fly in 2022? appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

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Motley Fool contributor Tony Yoo owns Corporate Travel Management Limited. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns and has recommended Helloworld Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns and has recommended Helloworld Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Corporate Travel Management Limited, Flight Centre Travel Group Limited, and Webjet Ltd. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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