With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing travel to a standstill, Away has announced it is furloughing approximately half of its team and laying off an additional 10 percent. The travel luggage company noted in a Medium post that it has seen sales of its products drop by over 90 percent over the past few weeks.
Founders Steph Korey and Jen Rubio said in the post, “This was a devastating decision and one we considered only as a last resort. The pride we once had in the creation of so many opportunities for people is now fear, frustration and concern for a large number of people who didn’t deserve this outcome.”
Korey and Rubio noted that most of the furloughed staffers are part of the company’s customer experience and retail teams who work with shoppers directly. They will continue to get all of their wages and benefits until they can go back to work full-time, with the help of government aid. The team members impacted by the layoff would get at least eight weeks of severance and that the company would pay for healthcare coverage through June.
The founders also said, “We’ve waived the vesting cliff on equity and extended the exercise period of stock options so affected employees don’t have to make decisions surrounding their equity in the short term.”
According to the announcement, the company “took swift and aggressive steps” as the crisis started to unravel in March. At that time, the decision was made to close Away’s 10 brick-and-mortar retail locations and continue paying its retail teams “during what we hoped would be short-term closures.”
In separate news, a report surfaced in March that the drop in travel due to coronavirus fears could end up costing the airline industry over $113 billion in revenue this year. At the time, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said the airline industry was in crisis because of the rapid spread of the virus in regions such as the U.S. and Europe.