Airbnb
Airbnb iStock

Airbnb announced on Tuesday it would be laying off about 25% of its workforce as the coronavirus pandemic upends the travel industry and threatens the company's core business.

The short-term rental startup said nearly 1,900 employees will be let go worldwide, out of 7,500, according to CNN.

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

He added that Airbnb's business has been "hit hard" and revenue this year is expected to be less than half of what the company earned in 2019.

In the US, Airbnb said it will cover 12 months of health insurance for its employees through COBRA. In all other countries, it will cover health insurance costs through the end of this year.

"I have a deep feeling of love for all of you," Chesky wrote in the letter. "I am truly sorry. Please know this is not your fault. The world will never stop seeking the qualities and talents that you brought to Airbnb."

Airbnb has also grappled with appeasing frustrated customers with refunds, and supporting its hosts, many of whom are struggling to make mortgage payments and pay bills due to coronavirus-related cancellations.

The company made headlines in Israel in 2018 when it decided to remove listings for about 200 homes in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

It later announced that it will not remove listings in Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria from its website, as part of a court settlement with American Jewish plaintiffs who had sued the company.

In addition to the lawsuit by the group of Jewish Americans, several states took action against Airbnb following the move.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis agreed to place Airbnb on the state’s scrutinized companies list which prohibits state investment in companies that boycott Israel.

Texas similarly prohibited investment in Airbnb, placing the company on the state comptroller’s “list of companies that boycott Israel pursuant to Chapter 808 of the Texas government code,” which prohibits investment in companies that boycott Israel.

In addition, an independent board in Illinois voted to notify Airbnb that it is violating state laws barring the economic boycott of Israel, making Illinois the first state to take firm action against the online lodging company.

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