Airbnb, Booking join Western corporate shutdowns in Russia

Illustration shows Airbnb app
Airbnb app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
  • Airbnb follows big names from Boeing to Google
  • Russia under global pressure for Ukraine invasion
  • People help Ukrainians by booking rooms even if unused

March 4 (Reuters) - Home rental firm Airbnb Inc (ABNB.O)and online travel agency Booking Holdings Inc (BKNG.O) became the latest big global companies to suspend operations in Russia as Western sanctions build against Moscow for invading Ukraine.

Airbnb Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky tweeted on Thursday the suspension, which also includes Russian ally Belarus. It aligns his company with other major Western names including General Motors Co (GM.N), Boeing Co (BA.N) and Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google.

"People are booking Airbnbs in Ukraine they don't intend to stay in just to help Hosts," Chesky added, noting a way some outsiders have found to send financial support to Ukrainians.

Airbnb, which is recovering from a pandemic-induced lull, has forecast bumper first-quarter results on strong demand in the United States and longer stays by guests. read more

The company did not immediately respond to a request for additional details on the suspensions in Russia and Belarus. Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) is Airbnb's second-biggest market after North America.

"With each passing day, as the urgency of this devastating war in Ukraine intensifies, so do the complexities of doing business in the region," Booking CEO Glenn Fogel wrote in a LinkedIn post on Friday.

Booking has also suspended travel services in Belarus, he wrote.

Shares of both the companies were down more than 6% each in afternoon trading.

Airbnb said on Monday its non-profit arm would offer free, temporary housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine. read more

Reporting by Bhargav Acharya and Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Aditya Soni and Maju Samuel

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