23 Mar 2020

Flight Centre makes 250 staff redundant, temporarily shuts 33 shops

2:36 pm on 23 March 2020

Flight Centre has announced that 250 staff would be made redundant from today, and 33 shop would close temporarily, due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Generic picture of a brick and mortar Flight Centre store in Wellington.

Photo: RNZ / Matt Chatterton

In a statement, the travel agency said the unprecedented travel restrictions throughout the world has forced it to reduce its workforce.

The company said the job losses primarily affect those staff who joined Flight Centre New Zealand within the last year.

See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

All contractual obligations will be met and those impacted will finish with the company today.

"This decision wasn't taken lightly and it was one that we hoped to avoid, we do not want to see these great people leave our company," Flight Centre New Zealand managing director David Coombes said.

"We took every possible step to save these roles but, in the end, we were left with no choice.

"Our core product - international travel - has effectively been taken from the shelves in the short-term and, while we anticipate a strong rebound in time, it is impossible to predict the timeframe for recovery.

"We have had to take immediate and drastic action and I fear further tough calls will be needed if we do not get urgent government support," he says.

Once travel rebounds and the company is able to expand again, employees who have lost their jobs will be given preferential selection over others, Coombes said.

Flight Centre Travel Group employs 1200 New Zealanders as well as over 200 self-employed travel brokers.

Flight Centre has more than 140 retail locations.

Thousands return home

Six thousand New Zealanders have flown home every day since the border closure came into force.

Customs figures show that while passenger numbers at the country's international airports are well down on usual numbers, they have remained steady since Thursday when the border was closed.

About 7000 people - including New Zealand-citizens and residents, their partners and children - arrived per day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Six out of every seven travellers landed in Auckland.

Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus: