Coronavirus: Airbnb pays out millions to hosts left with empty homes due to cancellations

Airbnb's revenue in 2019 exceeded NZ$7.9 billion.
Airbnb's revenue in 2019 exceeded NZ$7.9 billion. Photo credit: Airbnb.

Airbnb is allocating NZ$415 million to help offset losses by hosts around the world whose guests have cancelled bookings in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, following its announcement earlier this month that guests could get full refunds for certain reservations.

The aid, which will pay hosts 25 percent of their normal cancellation fees, is being offered globally except for China.

The payments to hosts apply to the cancellation of reservations with check-in dates between March 14 and May 31.

Because hosts can choose different cancellation policies, some requiring a penalty payment with others allowing free cancellation up to a certain date before check-in, not all cancelled reservations will qualify for a payment.

Airbnb had earlier announced that guests would receive a full refund for the cancellation of reservations made on or before March 14 for check-in between March 14 and April 14.

Airbnb also said that hosts could cancel reservations without a charge.

Airbnb said it was funding the program for hosts itself and would begin to issue the payments in April.

Airbnb provided no details on whether the NZ$415 million would be sufficient to cover fees to hosts for all eligible cancelled reservations.

Airbnb's revenue in 2019 exceeded NZ$7.9 billion, up 35 percent on the year, and it has NZ$4.9 billion in cash, a source told Reuters last week.

The company said in September that it planned to list its shares in 2020, and so far has not changed that position.