Skift Take

You can't blame the Priceline Group and Kayak for cutting costs and axing employees because they are part of a public company and their role is to make money for shareholders. Still, Kayak should do as much as possible to ease the transition for the people who built the Cheapflights and Momondo brands.

The ax just fell for nearly 50 Momondo Group employees, including many from its London-based Cheapflights brand, Skift has learned exclusively.

In an email to the company from Kayak, some 47 staffers, some of whom had taken up Group roles after having worked at Cheapflights for years, were informed that the layoff — or redundancy — consultation process had begun.

The Priceline Group completed its roughly $550 million acquisition of the Momondo Group in July, and the plan is for Priceline’s Kayak to run the show and absorb — and likely retain — the Momondo and Cheapflights travel metasearch brands.

Under UK Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) regulations, the employer considering layoffs has to inform the company how many employees will enter into a two-week redundancy consultation period. The vast majority of the impacted staffers expect that they will lose their jobs, although it’s possible there could be new positions for a few.

Layoffs are often expected — and feared — when an acquisition takes place and the acquirer is looking for synergies and cost-savings. Since Kayak, Momondo, and Cheapflights are businesses that are similar in many ways, there are a lot of duplicative positions.

Momondo Group is believed to have had some 370 employees prior to the acquisition. If Kayak terminates the 47 people or the vast majority of them, then the toll would be about 12 to 13 percent of the Momondo Group workforce.

Momondo Group CEO Hugo Burge left the company in July when the deal closed, and several other key employees, including Cheapflights managing director Andy Shelton and head of global human resources Suzi Rigden left the company in the last week or so.

Contacted about the Kayak email to employees, Kayak co-founder and CEO Steve Hafner said there have been no layoffs and that the company is merely following the UK’s employee consultation and protection provisions.

Under UK law, even to change roles around as part of a realignment requires the consultation process.

“We’re simply following that outline as we explore the most efficient way to run our brands together,” Hafner said. “It’s definitely not a formality. We are still figuring stuff out.”

The impacted Momondo and Cheapflights employees, however, don’t expect to be collecting paychecks there for long.

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Tags: kayak, layoffs, momondo

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