As you would be aware, the coronavirus has had an enormous impact on the travel industry around the world. Our business, the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG), has responded to this ongoing crisis in light of the current restrictions.
We support and understand the measures taken to put public health and safety first, however the escalating government-imposed restrictions are significantly impacting us and all travel and tourism businesses. Regardless, we are continuing to help our customers travelling later in the year, or those needing to change any current travel arrangements. We are also working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to help our customers return home, navigating border closures and reduced airline capabilities.
At the present time, due to these limitations, we are temporarily unable to operate in a normal manner. This has led to the stoppage of the vast proportion of work previously carried out by our employees. On this note, I’d like to thank you for your support and patience. I’d also like to thank our people globally who have continued to work tirelessly to help the millions of travellers who have been affected.
Impact on FCTG workforce
Today, we made the difficult decision to stand down a considerable portion of our workforce for an indefinite period of time. We are simply unable to continue our normal business operations in this environment. This decision was made in response to an unexpected stoppage of work, capacity and demand within the travel industry domestically and internationally.
We remain committed to looking after you – both during this difficult period and beyond – and will continue to be available to you through our stores (where permitted), online, via social media and through our mobile capabilities during this time of social distancing. Our priority is to service our customers in this uncertain and reduced demand environment whilst maintaining our unique company culture.
How will this affect FCTG’s retail network
In light of the current constraints, we have brought forward the planned closure of a percentage of our store network. Gradually over the coming months we will move to close roughly 250 of our stores nationwide. This represents just under 30% of the FCTG store network, spread across our family of travel brands. What is important, regardless of these store closures, is that FCTG remains Australia’s largest travel business and will continue to be here for our customers, as we have over our 38 year history.
This incredibly difficult decision, to stand down our people, in combination with numerous other measures across our business, will assist us to weather this storm and help to preserve the Flight Centre business, and retain the majority of our people for the long-term.
What is FCTG doing to assist those who will be stood-down
These employees are people that we do not want to lose. We hope to bring as many of them as possible back on board when conditions improve. They are being stood-down out of necessity, not removed from our business permanently. We are proactively working to assist these people as best we can during this challenging time.
We are engaging with a large pool of potential employers to secure immediate access to up to 10,000 sales and call centre roles for the stood-down portion of our workforce. We will endeavour to provide the opportunity for those staff members who are impacted, to return when conditions improve. We have requested additional support from governments, including rapid access to benefits and support schemes for any of our stood-down workers who may not have accrued sufficient leave or are unable to find short-term roles. In addition, we have developed comprehensive resources outlining financial and emotional assistance packages, work opportunities and ongoing access to FCTG benefits, aimed to assist our people during this time.
Our management and our people throughout the world are determined to ensure the business overcomes the significant challenges that it currently faces and, with the support of our customers, we hope to be ready when conditions eventually normalise.
Thank-you once again for supporting our business through what is undoubtedly one of the most unprecedented challenges of the 38 years of this company's history. We are incredibly grateful to our customers who share our passion for travel.
In the meantime I understand that you will have a lot of questions, most of which are hopefully answered here. We will continue to communicate and update you on our next steps over the coming weeks and months.