Skyscanner Releases Windows 8 App, Plans 100 New Jobs In Its Scotland HQ

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Last month Skyscanner, which competes with Kayak on flight, hotel and car hire bookings, hit a nice milestetone with 11 million downloads of its free native mobile apps. Today it’s adding to that with a Windows 8 version. The free app is being featured on the Windows Store and is – the company claims – the first app with built in free-text search. That means users can enter “Flights to Berlin next Tuesday, back a week later”, rather than completing several data fields, to search for flights. Users can also pin and track flight searches to their Windows desktop through live tiles. Skyscanner’s app also runs on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry.

In a separate announcement, the company said it planned to create 100 new jobs in Scotland, in its Edinburgh HQ, with a new Glasgow office planned for 2013. Given that 70% of Skyscanner’s income is now generated outside the UK, they now need more people to deal with the incoming.

Gareth Williams, co-founder and CEO, says they plan to be “the world’s number one travel search site over the next few years” and are happy with Edinburgh’s development as a leading tech hub in the UK. Right now Skyscanner has 150 staff in Edinburgh, with 20 employees based in Singapore and in its Beijing office, which opened last month.

Available in more than 30 languages, Skyscanner says that its mobile apps account for about a third of the 30 million monthly visits to its site, an in Asia it accounts for more than 50 percent. It’s also looking at integrating its flight search technology with the rail systems of emerging markets.

Founded in 2003, Skyscanner is reportedly on track to achieve an annual turnover of close to £30m, nearing £10m in profit. That’s likely been bouyed by a recent partnership it signed with the Chinese search engine Baidu.