Airbnb CEO hints at launching airline
In an interview with The Times, Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky suggested that the company may be venturing into aviation. During the interview, published on February 25, 2018, Chesky said that the company “seriously considered a lot of things around aviation and spent a lot of time exploring different concepts”.
Chesky explained that the company aims to follow Amazon’s business model by becoming a universal platform for the travel industry, “we want to be a one-stop shop for travel. Of all the big tech companies, the way Amazon has approached building their business to be a one-stop shop for shopping is probably most similar to what we’re trying to do”.
Airbnb recently expanded to trip planning in addition to home-sharing and according to Travel and Leisure, the company teased a service for booking air travel back in 2016. In a recent interview with PhocusWire, the CEO told the magazine that the company’s main competition is online one-stop shopping travel agencies like Expedia and Booking.com so aviation may seem like a logical next step for an all-inclusive travel business.
The hospitality service has already collaborated with airlines in the past. In 2016 Airbnb partnered with Qantas Airways allowing the airline loyalty members to earn points when booking Airbnb accommodation through the airline. The company also cooperated with Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) allowing Airbnb members to book a flight through the hospitality service’s website.
The hint comes almost a month after the Chief Financial Officer Laurence Tosi left Airbnb on February 1, 2018 due to disagreements with Chesky about the company vision. According to Bloomberg, CEO’s progressive concept and grand ambitions lead to tensions between him and Tosi. Quartz reports that Chesky’s idea for Airbnb’s airline may have been one of the reasons for their disagreements.
The news of Chesky’s ambitions for Airbnb airline comes just a week after Airbnb’s 10 year anniversary when the company unveiled new features like a Superguest membership program, Airbnb Plus to provide more luxurious stays for the customers, new property types and more.
Since its inception in 2008, Airbnb has become one of top tech companies in Silicon Valley. Currently the hospitality service has 4.5 million listings in 192 countries. Despite company’s legal battles in various cities like London and New York, Airbnb was one of the few profitable private tech companies in 2017 with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of about $100m, according to Financial Times.
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