Uber: External Business Travel Will Recover ‘Very Quickly,’ Faster Than Internal

Uber expects external business travel to recover “very quickly” and earlier than internal business travel, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said Wednesday during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. 

“Internal company business travel will probably come back a bit slower, so it may take a few years for it to come back. Companies have cut down on it; companies are using Zoom, etc.,” Khosrowshahi said. “External travel, we think, will recover very quickly. Once you get salespersons out to win a client, it’s a personal visit versus someone who tries to win a client on Zoom. You are going to have plenty of folks traveling out, just like they did for years and years.”

Like Lyft, Uber expects leisure to be a major driver of the recovery. “I think leisure travel will bounce back really quickly and significantly,” Khosrowshahi said.

The company also pointed to the cost effect of California’s approval of Proposition 22, which introduced a set of labor and wage policies, one of which allowed ride-hailing services to label drivers as contractors instead of employees. “We believe Prop 22 was the right outcome for riders and drivers of Uber,” Uber CFO Nelson Chai said.  “The price increases are manageable when compared to the 100-plus increase associated with traditional employment, [which] would have seen us exit most markets in California—and not just us, but our other competitors as well.”

For the fourth quarter, Uber reported a 16 percent year-over-year decline in revenue but 13 percent growth over the third quarter of 2020. Gross bookings amounted to $17.2 billion, down 5 percent year over year but up 16 percent quarter over quarter. The total number of trips fell 24 percent year over year to 1.4 billion.

Net loss for the fourth quarter was $968 million. Adjusted EBITDA loss before totaled $454 million. Mobility adjusted EBITDA grew $48 million quarter over quarter but fell $449 million year over year to $293 million. Delivery adjusted EBITDA loss amounted to $145 million.

For the fiscal year 2020, Uber reported its revenue as $11.2 billion for 2020, a 14 percent lower than $13 billion it reported for 2019. Net loss amounted to $6.8 billion, compared with a net loss of $8.5 billion in 2019.

Gross bookings in 2020 totaled $57.9 billion, down 11 percent from $65 billion in 2019. The number of trips amounted to 5 billion, down 27 percent from 6.9 billion in 2019.

RELATED: Uber Q3 earnings

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