Expedia raising US$3.2 bil after pandemic batters travel

SAN FRANCISCO: Expedia on Thursday appointed a new chief executive and said it would raise US$3.2 billion to ride out the devastating slump in the travel industry linked to the virus pandemic.

The online travel booking service will also furlough workers, and its board and top executive will forgo cash pay for the rest of the year, Expedia Group chairman Barry Diller said in a release.

Senior executives at the company will take a 25% pay cut, according to Expedia.

“We have one mandate – to conserve cash, survive, and use this time to reconstruct a stronger enterprise to serve the future of travel,” Diller said.

“We are unable to make any predictions as to when travel will rebound but we emphatically believe that it will, for … ‘if there’s life, there’s travel’.”

Expedia board vice chairman Peter Kern was appointed chief executive.

The infusion of funding consists of a US$1.2 billion equity investment by Apollo and Silver Lake venture firms and US$2 billion in debt, according to Diller.

Expedia will also begin furloughing employees and reducing work weeks, making sure health benefits remain in place, the company said.

The moves comes with airlines, hotels and other travel operators seeing massive slumps as consumers stay at home to ride out the pandemic.

Expedia operates a range of online travel sites including Hotels.com, Hotwire, Travelocity, Cheaptickets, Trivago and CarRentals.com, among others.