Monday 23 May 2022 to pay back €65m in Covid support following bonus outcry

The company’s Amsterdam headquarters. Photo:

Hotel booking website is paying back the €65m it received from the Dutch government to help pay wages in the first three months of the pandemic, following the public and political outcry over a €28m bonus package for three top executives.

‘We have followed the debate in the Netherlands closely over the past few days, take it extremely seriously and understand the sensitivity,’ said in a statement.

‘During the pandemic, we used the options available to us to help through the crisis and to maintain employment levels as well as we could, including the NOW ruling,’ the company said. ‘Repaying the NOW subsidy was always an option for us, but was something to consider when we were in calmer waters.’

Last week the NRC revealed that Amsterdam-based is paying three top American executives a bonus of €28m in shares, despite having received millions of euros from the Dutch state in the first months of the pandemic.

MPs voted to claw back the money, but social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees said during Wednesday’s debate that there are no legal grounds to force repayment because the first round of coronavirus support did not include the proviso that companies receiving cash could not pay bonuses or dividends.

Instead, Koolmees said, ministers would make a moral appeal to the company.

Koolmees said on Friday that the company’s decision to refund the financial support was ‘right and sensible.’

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.