Airbnb has said it is offering $250 million to help hosts survive financial losses after the company agreed to waive all cancellation fees during the coronavirus pandemic.

Following heated backlash, Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky described hosts as partners, saying: “While I believe we did the right thing in prioritizing health and safety, I’m sorry that we communicated this decision to guests without consulting you”.

Airbnb will refund hosts 25% of what they would normally be due for cancellations due to COVID-19 on bookings made for March 14 to May 31, while travellers themselves get refunds or credit for future stays.

The company has also pledged $10 million for experienced and highly rated “superhosts” who need help paying their mortgage or rent, 90% of this from the two co-founders.

About 50,000 Airbnb hosts have volunteered to make their homes available to health care workers, relief providers and first responders combating the pandemic.

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