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Booking Holdings reports an 85% drop in bookings and substantial layoffs possible

Booking.com terminated 48 contractors in Amsterdam when their agreements expired. Glenn Fogel, CEO of that unit and its parent Booking Holdings, told employees in an internal video on Friday that additional layoffs were certainly possible.

Dutch site NRC reported "Last Friday, Booking Holdings announced possible dismissal during a video conference with hundreds of employees. In it, Gleen Fogel replied 'probably, yes' to the question of whether layoffs would be made."

There have been no official announcements yet, although the company is undoubtedly mulling its options. Note that Booking’s Works Council (an internal employee association) submitted a plan to Booking a couple of weeks ago seeking to limit the number of layoffs and to ensure they are carried out in an equitable manner.

With bookings down 85 percent as of early April, compared to a year earlier, Booking Holdings confirmed that it applied for government assistance in the UK and the Netherlands.

"The relief will help us support the short term financial health of our business, and our employees, as we continue to plan for the longer-term recovery when the travel economy begins to emerge from this difficult time," Booking Holdings stated on Thursday 16. The company hasen't decided yet whether to apply for relief under the U.S. CARES Act. 

Glenn Fogel, who tested positive for Coronavirus a couple of weeks ago, agreed to cease taking any salary for the remainder of the year, and top executives have taken pay cuts. In 2018, he was the highest compensated online travel CEO at $20.45 million. The Works Council has asked him to give up taking his share grants and options in 2020, as well.

In addition, the Group has pledged to massively reduce its travel advertising in 2020, and in a CNBC interview, Expedia Group Chairman and Senior Executive Barry Diller said, "We won’t spend $1 billion in advertising probably this year." 

"As far as travel is concerned, while I’m absolutely optimistic that at some point, but I don’t think soon, I don’t think it’s until probably September, October, November, December, really get life back," Darry Diller said. "And in order to travel, you’ve got to have that. So, they’re totally different situations. This is not analogous. I don’t think it’s analogous to anything. Certainly not analogous to 9/11 and to the financial crisis in ’08."

Booking Holdings' brands include Booking.com, KAYAK, priceline.com, agoda.com, Rentalcars.com and OpenTable.

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