predicts profit

Thursday, October 26th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

By Katherine Yung / The Dallas Morning News, the nation's largest online travel agency, expects to turn its first profit in the fourth quarter of 2001 and double revenue this year, its chief executive said Wednesday.

"We're moving rapidly on this path," said Terrell Jones, who also serves as's president.

The Internet travel provider, which launched its Web site in 1996, officially opened a new headquarters Wednesday in Fort Worth. The facility will accommodate 180 employees, up from 120 at the former site.

As other dot.coms rush to lay off workers amid volatility in the sector, plans to continue expanding its workforce, which now numbers 1,200, including 750 in Texas.'s revenue growth has been boosted by its March acquisition of Preview Travel Inc., a rival online travel agency. Preview's strength in selling vacation packages and cruises has bolstered's efforts to expand.

However, shareholders have taken a bath since the merger. The company's stock price has plunged 68 percent since early March, closing Wednesday at $14, down 25 cents a share for the day.

The stock slide hasn't yet prompted to resort to incentives to keep employees happy and turnover remains low, Mr. Jones said.

"People here are convinced we got caught in a big downdraft," he said.

"As we move to profitability ... the stock price will recover over time." currently has no plans to offer the Internet-only fares consumers now find on the airlines' Web sites.

Orbitz, a rival which plans to launch its own travel site next year, has promised to feature these types of bargains. But wouldn't make any money selling these tickets, Mr. Jones said.