Skift Breaking News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Online Travel

Online Travel Agency Kiwi Receives $105 Million in Investment

2 weeks ago

Kiwi.com, an online travel agency based in Brno, Czechia, said on Wednesday it had received an investment of $105 million (€100 million) from an unnamed “preeminent global institutional investor.”

The company didn’t disclose the terms of the deal. General Atlantic had invested in the company before the pandemic.

One of Kiwi.com’s signature offerings is “virtual interlining,” where it pieces together itineraries from different airlines that may not have formal code-sharing agreements. It offers insurance and other assistance to help knit together the trips and handle service complaints when things go awry. But the company also offers other trip components for sale, such as hotel stays and bus trips.

Kiwi.com reported rapid growth before the pandemic, but when Covid struck, many online forums lit up with complaints about the company’s customer service. The company has said it has put better procedures in place to handle customer needs, and it also says that it has returned to growth.

See the press release

Luxury

Certares and Knighthead Invest $225 Million in Global Blue in Bet on Duty-Free Shopping

2 months ago

Have you ever claimed your value added tax back for things you bought during a trip to Europe? Then you probably used a Global Blue Tax Free Shopping service. Global Blue, a payments specialist for 300,000 partner stores primarily in the European Union, is now on the rebound.

It has agreed to receive $225 million in investment, subject to shareholder approval, from CK Opportunities, an investment fund co-managed by Certares, a global travel, tourism and hospitality investment firm, and Knighthead, a credit investment management firm.

The news comes shortly after Global Blue reported its first notional profit since the pandemic began, as measured by positive adjusted earnings, before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

Certares was founded as a private equity firm in 2012 in New York and has gone on to invest heavily in travel companies — most prominently American Express Global Business Travel, Hertz Corp., airline group Latam, and Liberty Tripadvisor Holdings.

One of the broad themes of Certares’ recent travel investments is that luxury or premium travel will prove to have long-term resilience despite other headwinds that might buffet the travel sector. Global Blue processes payments and has made particularly inroads on facilitating purchases made by international travelers on luxury good purchases at airports. In a non-pandemic year, Global Blue manages 35 million transactions. (See Skift’s coverage of Certares, here.) 

Recovery led by US travelers in Europe is especially strong. Spending by U.S. travelers of which Global Blue is managing the VAT refund was up 166 percent in April compared to pre-Covid levels.

Global Blue is a Silver Lake portfolio company that went public in 2020.

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