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Setback for tech giant

Skyscanner cuts fifth of workforce as travel slumps


Skyscanner is based in Edinburgh’s Quartermile (pic: Terry Murden)

Online travel search engine Skyscanner is cutting a fifth of its workforce and closing offices overseas because of the slump in tourism.

The head office in Edinburgh’s Quartermile will suffer a third of the hit, with 84 jobs to be axed.

The company, held up as one of the country’s biggest tech successes, will lose about 300 jobs and is expected to close offices in Hungary and Bulgaria.

The site specialises in flight, car rental and hotel prices and hit 100 million monthly users in 2019.

Skyscanner employs 1,500 staff around the world and said it plans to centralise its marketing teams and consolidate its office footprint.  It will close its Sofia and Budapest offices and reduce its presence in Singapore and Miami, according to an internal email from chief executive Moshe Rafiah.  It plans to create 60 jobs as part of its restructuring.

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Mr Rafiah’s message said Skyscanner’s revenues “have been hit significantly” and the company is having to adapt to a radically different travel industry where “a full recovery to our previous scale before COVID-19 looks to be several quarters or possibly years away.

The bombshell comes after the company suspended its budgets and introduced a voluntary change in working patterns in March after the UK went into lockdown.

Skyscanner was founded in 2003 by Gareth Williams, Barry Smith, and Bonamy Grimes and was sold to Chinese firm Ctrip in 2016 in a deal which valued the company at £1.4billion, the largest tech travel deal in Europe.

Gareth Williams

Co-founder: Gareth Williams

Earlier investments, including the first investment into a European business by California-based Sequoia Capital, made it one of the few Scottish firms to achieve “unicorn” status – a value of more than $1 billion..

A spokesman for Skyscanner said: “While we’re confident of Skyscanner’s recovery in the long-term, the impact of COVID-19 means there is still uncertainty on how much time it will take for travel to recover and what this might look like.

“This is a hard time for our people and teams, so throughout this process our priority – as it always is – will be to treat everyone with empathy, care and respect.

“We’ll be working to make sure we support them as much as we can.”

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