Flight Centre shuts 58 stores indefinitely, stands down more than 300 employees during Covid-19 crisis

Source: 1News

Travel agency Flight Centre is shutting 58 stores indefinitely, with another 300 employees temporarily stood down as it battles to survive the coronavirus crisis.

A Flight Centre shopfront (file).

Airlines have grounded their planes and countries have shut their borders to try and prevent the Covid-19 pandemic from spreading further, putting pressure on travel agencies.

Flight Centre had previously announced 33 stores were to close temporarily, but today it confirmed those stores, plus 25 others, would be shut indefinitely.

Around 300 staff are being stood down temporarily, but will remain employed with Flight Centre in the hopes of being restored once demand comes back, a spokesperson told 1 NEWS today.

Those staff will receive the Government wage subsidy as they stay employed.

However, another 250 people have been permanently made redundant.

"People are the heart and soul of our company and we are gutted that it has come to this," managing director David Coombes said in a statement today.

"Our people who are stepping down remain a very important part of our whānau, and of our future – we will welcome them back with open arms when restrictions are lifted and demand for travel starts to improve."

Mr Coombes says the company is "determined to ensure this is a temporary measure".

As well as the wage subsidy, they're also looking at alternative income sources for the staff being stood down, Mr Coombes says.

Businesses with employment prospects are asked to contact Flight Centre on projectremedy@flightcentre.co.nz

At this time, the company's priority is to help repatriate travellers stranded overseas and to help customers rearrange their future plans, Mr Coombes says.

The Australia-founded company has received more than $AU900 million (NZ$928 million) in additional funding, he added.

"While this is not a 'cure-all', it does ensure that Flight Centre New Zealand is financially secure and well positioned to rebound."