Booking.com plans to lay off a quarter of employees

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Booking.com is laying off roughly 4,500 employees as the brand looks to reorganize following the devastating impact of Covid-19.

The company says up to 25% of the site's global workforce of 17,500 will leave as part of a major restructuring of the organization.

Details as to where the cuts at Booking.com will be being made across its portfolio of businesses will be worked out as it negotiates with its various unions.

A statement from the company said the Covid-19 crisis has "devastated the travel industry," and it continues to feel the impact as bookings are still "significantly reduced."

It added: "While we have done much to save as many jobs as possible, we believe we must restructure our organization to match our expectation of the future of travel."

Latest steps

Booking.com owner Booking Holdings (operator of Agoda, Priceline, Kayak, OpenTable, Momondo and others) has operations in 65 countries around the world and currently 26,000 staff.

The cost-savings at Booking.com come three months after the group halted stock buybacks, dramatically reduced marketing spending  the first quarter figure was $851 million compared to $1.2 billion a year earlier  implemented a hiring freeze and reduced executive compensation.

In May, the company completed a "strategic evaluation" of sister brands Kayak and OpenTable, which led to layoffs and furloughs that CFO David Goulden says cut costs at those particular brands by about 20%.

At the outset of the pandemic in March, Booking Holdings put into place a number of steps around supporting its financial position, including an offering of senior notes, which is expected to raise $3.23 billion, as well as an offering of convertible senior notes to net an additional $735 million.

The proceeds would go toward "general corporate purposes which may include the repayment of debt."

At the time, the company said that even before the announced external financing, it believed if the current business volumes stayed the same, it could meet "operational and other needs  through at least the end of 2021."

First-quarter 2020 earnings at Booking Holdings (it releases figures for the second quarter later this week) did not accurately reflect the severity of the impact of COVID-19, CEO Glenn Fogel said at the time.

Gross travel bookings dropped to $12.4 billion in the January to March period of 2020  still a massive number, but a whopping 51% less than it was one year earlier ($25.4 billion).

Much of the loss came in the category of room nights booked, which had been down 43% year-over-year in the first quarter.

A version of this report was initially published in Phocuswire, which is owned by Travel Weekly parent company Northstar Travel Group.

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