Booking.com cuts workforce by thousands as travel atrophies

Booking.com cuts workforce by thousands as travel atrophies

Booking.com is laying off a quarter of its workforce — more than 4,000 people — with the global pandemic snuffing out travel.

Layoffs will begin next month and run through the end of the year, according to parent company Booking Holdings Inc.

Booking Holdings, based in Norwalk, Connecticut, also owns the restaurant reservation company OpenTable and Priceline.com.

The number of room reserved at Booking.com during the first quarter of this year tumbled 43%, to 124 million.

The company warned investors in May to brace for worse in the second financial quarter, the results of which are due Thursday.

Booking.com, based in Amsterdam, is a dominant player in Europe, where it controls more than 60% of online travel bookings, according to a 2018 report from Hospitality Europe. But bookings have plummeted as travel from major markets like the U.S. and China has slowed significantly.

The number of people passing through U.S. airport checkpoints is running about 70% lower than a year ago, according to figures from the Transportation Security Administration. Travel plunged about 95% by mid-April, then rose steadily until levelling off throughout July. More than 700,000 people were screened each of the last five days, through Monday, the first time that has happened since mid-March.

The World Tourism Organization, an agency of the United Nations, said late last month that there was a 56% drop in tourist arrivals between January and May. That’s about 300 million people, and $320 billion in lost international tourism receipts.

Booking.com has 17,500 employees and more than 200 offices worldwide.

Dee-Ann Durbin, The Associated Press

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