Orbitz to lay off 40% of Chicago staff: report

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Online travel website company Orbitz Worldwide expects to lay off 40 percent of its Chicago workers over the next year.

Orbitz, which was acquired this year by Expedia, the online hotel booking company, intends to lay off 326 people beginning Dec. 4, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported Wednesday. Orbitz has about 800 workers at its Chicago office.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity did not answer an inquiry about layoff plans filed by Orbitz or Expedia. Orbitz declined to comment Wednesday.

Expedia completed is $1.3 billion takeover of Orbitz in September. The two companies own websites that allow travelers to book airline tickets, hotel rooms and car rentals. Expedia, of Bellevue, Washington, owns Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Check Tickets, Trivago, Hotwire.com and Travelocity. Orbitz owns HotelClub.com, Orbitz.com and CheapTickets.com.

The Orbitz deal made Expedia the biggest company in the industry in terms of the number of bookings it handles. Priceline, the owner of Bookings.com, Kayak, and restaurant-booking site OpenTable, has more revenue.

Expedia recently reported third-quarter profit of $283.2 million on revenue of $1.94 billion.

While U.S. regulators didn’t challenge the merger, a hotel industry blasted the deal.

The Justice Department said Orbitz was not a big source of hotel bookings, so the purchase should not affect the commissions Expedia charged.

But the American Hotel & Lodging Association contended the deal would lead to higher prices for vacationers and larger fees for hotel owners.

“We believe this transaction and the resulting consolidation of the online travel marketplace will result in significant negative consequences, particularly for consumers, but also for the large number of our members who are small business owners and franchised properties,” CEO Katherine Lugar said.

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