Bailing booking platforms and Airbnb bookings: how the travel industry is supporting Ukraine

Kaliningrad, Russia - February 22, 2018: Rossiya airlines Aeroflot airplane at the airport Khrabrovo

As the invasion of Ukraine continues, international sanctions against Russia heighten in every field of trade and business. Here’s the latest on how the travel industry is doing its bit.

Airbus and Boeing have withdrawn support from Russia, by confirming that they were both suspending all parts, maintenance and technical support for planes in Russia last week.

Russian airline Aeroflot, which uses many Airbus Jets, has had its support withdrawn from the French planemaker.

The Russian airline uses many Airbus jets, including the A320, the A330, and the A350.

“In line with international sanctions now in place, Airbus has suspended support services to Russian airlines, as well as the supply of spare parts to the country,” the company said in a statement.

“Services provided by the Airbus Engineering Centre in Russia have also been suspended pending further review.”

But it’s not just the plane manufacturers that have impacted Aeroflot, as the travel booking software provider, Sabre Corp, announced it terminated its distribution agreement with the Russian airline, impacting the carrier’s ability to sell tickets.

Sabre also announced it has donated USD$1 million (AUD$1,357,225) to the Polish Red Cross for Ukrainians seeking refuge in Poland.

Spanish travel tech company, Amadeus, also suspended the distribution of Aeroflot’s fares in its system and said it stopped new commercial projects in Russia.

Global distribution system providers, such as Amadeus and Sabre, use software networks to distribute airline tickets.

“We are complying, and will continue to comply, with sanctions imposed against Russia,” Sabre CEO Sean Menke said.

However, Aeroflot said it would continue to carry passengers, according to RIA.

According to Reuters, Aeroflot is now working with other providers and has its own system allowing it to work with sales agents directly.

The founder of G Adventures, Bruce Poon Tip, commended Sabre for removing Aeroflot and joining the series of businesses in the travel industry, including G Adventures, that are ditching Russia.

“Without Sabre, Aeroflot is unable to issue tickets, which will cause mass disruption for domestic travel in Russia,” Poon Tip said.

“…This is exactly what we need to come together in travel to embrace our ability to be a transformational industry.”

Airbnb and Booking.com have also thrown their support behind Ukraine, by suspending operations in Russia and Belarus.

Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, took to Twitter to make the announcement last week.

Booking CEO, Glenn Fogel also voiced his support for Ukraine in a LinkedIn post on Friday.

“With each passing day, as the urgency of this devastating war in Ukraine intensifies, so do the complexities of doing business in the region,” Fogel wrote.

“As a result of these increasing complexities ​since I shared the below update – including significant restrictions imposed by sanctions from a number of countries – we are suspending travel services in Russia and Belarus.”

In support of the tourism industry in Ukraine, people are booking Airbnbs in Ukraine, but not staying in them.

According to NPR, Airbnb is waiving all host and guest fees in Ukraine for now. On Wednesday and Thursday, more than 61,000 nights were booked from around the world grossing nearly USD$2 million (AUD $2,706,160).

Some have said the experience has helped them feel more invested in Ukraine beyond a series of headlines, by connecting with an actual person.

“It makes me feel like I have so much more skin in the game. I am so heartbroken for Ukraine, but I don’t know anyone there. And now I care so much about this woman and what happens to her,” Sarah Brown, who took part in the booking frenzy, told NPR.

For many Ukrainian locals, this makes up for lost income due to the invasion and allows them to support staff who fled to western Ukraine.

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