Big Hotel Brands Freeze Russia Plans

Skift Take

Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, March 10, in New York City. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

Rashaad Jorden

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast discusses the choices three hotel brands made to cut development in Russia, the electric cars that interest business travelers, and the ongoing regional pilot crisis.

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Episode Notes

A growing number of major Western corporations have announced their retreat from Russia in the light of the country’s invasion of Ukraine, but what decisions have some of the world’s most prominent hotel companies made about conducting business in Russia? Hilton, Hyatt and Accor have announced they’re freezing development plans in the world’s largest country, writes Hospitality Reporter Cameron Sperance.

Hilton and Hyatt announced on Wednesday that in addition to freezing development in Russia, they’re suspending investments in the country. Hilton also closed its corporate office in Moscow while Accor is halting all planned opening in the country. Accor continues to operate in Russia in support of its employees there and to offer its hotels as shelter for members of the media and non-governmental organizations.

It’s unclear if Marriott or IHG have made similar moves to the aforementioned three companies. Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano largely downplayed his company’s presence in Russia at a conference this week, stating that its 28 managed and franchised hotels in the country represent a miniscule amount of Marriott’s business.

Next, the ongoing pilot shortage in the United States has complicated any path to the airline industry making a full recovery this year. An executive at the country’s second-largest regional airline believes the problem will continue to get worse, writes Airlines Reporter Edward Russell.

Joseph Allman, the chief financial officer for Republic Airways, said at a conference earlier this week that he foresees the shortage being at its worst in the second and third quarters of 2023. Allman expects the US aviation industry to be short roughly 8,000 pilots next year while management consulting company Oliver Wyman projects a shortfall of 12,000 pilots.

Russell writes the pilot shortage represents a problem much bigger than a specific quarter or two for the aviation industry, citing pilot shortages that have already caused several small cities to lose flights from major carriers.

Finally, as business travel continues its recovery, company travel managers are facing greater pressure to reduce the carbon footprint of their employees’ trips. So corporations are increasingly turning to electric car rentals in an effort to conduct more sustainable business travel, reports Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons.

Parsons attributes the boom in electric car rentals to Hertz’s decision to buy 100,000 Teslas last October, which enabled the car rental giant to offer the largest electric rental fleet in North America. While Hertz is unable to provide delivery numbers for Teslas, current board member Mark Field said numerous corporations have expressed interest in having their business travelers rent an electric vehicle from Hertz.

Other travel companies have seen an enormous demand for electric vehicles. Spanish corporate travel agency TravelPerk recorded a more than 200 percent increase in electric vehicle takeup across its bookings in 2021, which a company spokesperson said reflects an increased awareness of sustainability.

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