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CONTINGENCY: Flight Centre Travel Group Makes Immediate Changes Due To Coronavirus

Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) has announced immediate company-wide changes in a first and significant step to mitigating the damaging economic effects due to coronavirus.

Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) has announced immediate company-wide changes in a first and significant step to mitigating the damaging economic effects due to coronavirus.

In an internal email sent to staff company-wide yesterday, the communication outlined both immediate enforced and suggested changes, stating: “The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a significant impact on the travel and tourism industry and has impacted many companies around the world and will do so into the foreseeable future”.

“Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) is no different, and although we are in a strong financial position, FCTG Australia needs to effectively manage our costs and spend.”

The short-term changes below outlined in the email went into immediate effect from yesterday, with most active from 4th March until 30 June 2020.

  • Duty Travel Freeze: There is now a freeze on all duty travel including famils with the only exception being business-critical (ie novice training and onboarding) and customer-facing travel
  • Conferences: All conferences will be cancelled from 16 March 2020 until further notice
  • Annual leave: All eligible employees have been asked to book and take a minimum of 1-week annual leave between now and 30 June 2020
  • Long Service Leave: Anyone with long service due is asked to consider taking it through this period
  • Unpaid leave: Optional unpaid leave is available to all employees
  • Purchase of additional leave: For all staff without any leave owing, there is the option to purchase an additional 10 days leave
  • Reduction of (FTE) Full-time employment: All staff have been offered the opportunity to reduce their FTE by 1 day per week or fortnight until the 30 June 2020. Staff can work a 4-day a week rather than 5-day with their salary reflective of this change

The email concludes by saying that “We greatly appreciate your support and understanding. If everyone can contribute in a small way it will make a big difference. We have been through similar events in the past and have always emerged bigger, better and stronger”.

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Speaking about the company-wide changes, Global Media and Investor Relations Manager FCTG, Haydn Long said:

“It is clear that the travel industry – and virtually every other industry – is going to be impacted over the next few months and it’s logical that businesses are taking precautions. Given we have a large cash balance and minimal debt, we are better placed than most to weather the challenges.”

“We do, however, need to take sensible steps – we have not yet started hoarding toilet paper – in relation to costs.

“Our priorities are to maintain this balance sheet strength and to preserve our workforce during what could be a challenging couple of months. This will ensure that we can capitalise on the inevitable rebound in demand that we will see a little further down the track and will mean that we don’t have to do what some other companies may need to do – lose people.

“In the short-term, we will inevitably make some changes in the ways that we normally operate, and these changes will obviously be reviewed and revisited when demand rebounds”.

With 19,000 employees globally in 23 countries, FCTG’s response is clearly a fiscally responsible one that gives all staff some personal flexibility and options to contribute collectively to the future safeguard of the company in the long term.

While FCTG is in a strong financial position to navigate what are extremely concerning times, the worry now is for smaller travel and tourism businesses who may not have the same level of cash flow and reserves to maintain their day to day business through the downturn.

The result of that, of course, could be redundancies and worst, business closure.

 

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Also read: BACK YOURSELF: Why Agents Need To Face Coronavirus Head On

As an industry, let’s all work to get through this together.