In sad news, Flight Centre will close about 90 more stores as a result of continued international and domestic border closures.
The closures will leave the Flight Centre brand with 330 stores alongside its 24/7 call-centres and website. Before COVID-19, the travel giant had 740 stores.
The announcement is part of Flight Centre’s plan to accelerate its leisure transformation program in this low revenue environment and fast-track growth plans in new and emerging channels while rejuvenating and rationalising the traditional Flight Centre brand shop network.
Flight Centre’s Australian managing director James Kavanagh said the retained shops had been carefully selected to deliver effective coverage for customers in the future, with about 95 per cent living within five kilometres of a retained shop.
He said the closures were not expected to impact FLT’s longer-term leisure recovery plans given that the smaller but stronger Flight Centre brand shop network would house almost 2000 of the company’s best and most experienced travel agents.
“Without question, the past six months have been the most challenging period in our almost 40 years in business,” Kavanagh said.
“Never before had we imagined – let alone faced – a scenario whereby all discretionary travel would be halted for a prolonged period.
“Fortunately, we took steps early to secure our long-term future and to ensure we could survive for an extended period in a very low revenue environment, although we have still been forced to make some very tough decisions.
Kavanagh said the company is “very sorry” that some of its people are not able to continue on their Flight Centre journey and that it is taking steps to preserve as many roles as possible for the future while building a smaller but stronger network.
“This network will be underpinned by a rejuvenated Flight Centre brand business, a strong stable of e-commerce businesses, the premium Travel Associates brand and an extensive network of travel entrepreneurs working as home-based agents,” he said.
“We and our people look forward to helping customers with their plans when domestic border restrictions ease and as international travel bubbles begin to open up.”
During the downturn, FLT has retained about 3,000 people in Australia, after about 4,000 sales and support roles became redundant during the past six months.
Flight Centre recently released its full-year results revealing a $662.1 million net loss after tax in 12 months to June 30 2020, compared to the $264.2 million profit it recorded in FY19.