International Olympic Committee sponsor Airbnb has cut 25 per cent of its workforce because of the coronavirus pandemic

Airbnb, the short-term room-rental service that became a global sponsor of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) less than six months ago, is cutting 25 per cent of its workforce.

The company has inevitably been hit hard by the sharp drop in international travel as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Co-founder and chief executive Brian Chesky made the announcement in an extended message to the company’s 7,500 employees yesterday.

"We are collectively living through the most harrowing crisis of our lifetime, and as it began to unfold, global travel came to a standstill," said Chesky.

"Airbnb’s business has been hit hard, with revenue this year forecasted to be less than half of what we earned in 2019.

"In response, we raised $2billion (£1.6billion/€1.8billion) in capital and dramatically cut costs.

"While we know Airbnb’s business will fully recover, the changes it will undergo are not temporary or short-lived.

"Because of this, we need to make more fundamental changes to Airbnb by reducing the size of our workforce around a more focused business strategy.

"Out of our 7,500 Airbnb employees, nearly 1,900 teammates will have to leave Airbnb, comprising around 25 per cent of our company."

Chesky indicated that the "more focused" business would endeavour to get back to its roots, as a mechanism for enabling private individuals efficiently to rent out space in their homes to short-term visitors.

As a result, he said, Airbnb was "pausing our efforts in transportation and Airbnb Studios, and we have to scale back our investments in hotels and Lux".

Airbnb was officially unveiled as a new IOC sponsor by President Thomas Bach at a press conference in London last November.

The deal was said to be worth an estimated $500million (£404million/€462million) in cash and value in kind, although Chesky subsequently tweeted that the figure was "not correct".

It covers five editions of the Olympics: Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022, Paris 2024, Milan Cortina 2026 and Los Angeles 2028.

The agreement provoked controversy in France, however, with French hoteliers warning they would suspend participation in the organisation of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in protest, and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo warning of the "risks" of the deal.

The IOC, for its part, has said that the Airbnb agreement "does not affect each Olympic Games organiser's ability to work with hotel partners, or reach a sponsorship agreement with a hotel partner."