Flight Centre axes more stores, calls for Australian borders to re-open

Flight Centre is to shut 91 outlets and lay off thousands of staff.

Flight Centre is to shut 91 outlets and lay off thousands of staff.

Flight Centre will shut down another 91 outlets across Australia, after widespread travel bans and border closures led to billions of dollars of cancelled bookings.

Hundreds of employees will lose their jobs in these latest store closures.

This was on top of the 4000 sales and support workers that Flight Centre had already axed in the past six months.

It comes three days after the federal government scaled back its fortnightly JobKeeper payments – to $750 for part-time workers, and $1200 for full-time staff.

These latest cuts will leave the struggling travel agency with 332 surviving retail outlets.

In a statement, the company said: “About 60 of these shops are likely to remain closed (hibernation) for the next six to 12 months while heavy travel restrictions are in place.”

“These shops are expected to reopen when governments lift these restrictions and as travel reawakens.”

Before COVID-19 struck, Flight Centre had 740 stores across Australia.

In a statement, the agency said the closures were not expected to affect its longer term recovery plans, with 95 per cent of stores closed within five kilometres of a retained shop.

“We are incredibly sorry that some of our great people are not able to continue on their Flight Centre journey with us at this time,” the company’s Australian managing director James Kavanagh said.

“But we are taking steps to preserve as many roles as possible for the future, while building a smaller but stronger overall network.”

Flight Centre’s chief executive Graham Turner has used the latest cost-cutting measures to argue that Australia’s economic health demands that borders be reopened.

“We have to live with this virus,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

“A vaccine is still some months away – and even if it’s here, the virus will still be around for at least two or three years.

“We need the Australian borders open, we need the New Zealand trans-Tasman [bubble] up and running as soon as possible.”

In August, the company posted a full-year loss of $662 million – a big downgrade from its previous result (a $264 million profit).

Flight Centre shares jumped (+2pc) to $14.04 by 12:00pm AEST.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has led to its share price tumbling 64.6 per cent since the year began.


Topics: Jobkeeper
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