Flight Centre is to shut an unspecified number of branches amid uncertainty over when travel demand will return after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Australian agency group has more than 75 stores nationwide which have been shut during lockdown with staff working from home dealing with cancellations, re-arranging travel plans and refunds.

Managing director Liz Mathews says on its website: “This is undoubtedly the most challenging time we’ve experienced during our 25 years on the UK high street.”

And in a statement issued to Travel Weekly, the company said: “As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the global travel industry for both leisure and corporate, came to a virtual standstill. We are seeing some green shots of growth but these remain far lower than what we are used to.

“No one knows when significant travel demand will return, but we do know that when consumer and business travel does resume, it will look very different.

“Like all organisations in the travel sectors, we are having to consider making some very difficult business decisions and sadly one of those is to close some of our stores in England and Scotland.

“Resilience and preparation are critical to ensuring we are in the best shape possible to operate in the post pandemic era, providing the best possible service to our customers, as well as ensuring that our people have greater certainty about their jobs going forwards.

“With the news that some travel will resume with European countries opening their borders and the imminent announcement of a traffic light system by the UK government.

“We are watching closely and navigating the news for our customers to ensure they have the best information to plan their travel from summer onwards.

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