Flight Centre has revealed it is considering replacing some of its shops with a virtual network of travel consultants and an ‘associates’ model.

Flight Centre said it was “having to consider making some very difficult business decisions”, which included “exploring the potential closure of stores in England and Scotland”, as a result the company is in consultation with its workforce over restructure proposals.

The Australian agency group confirmed it was reopening 12 of its 78 stores, however when Travel Weekly asked whether the remaining 66 were at risk of closure a spokeswoman declined to comment.

Flight Centre said it intended to “maintain a strong concentrated presence of stores in the south east”, adding that it was also working on introducing both a virtual network of agents and an ‘associates’ model for those operating in regions without a store.

“We are excited about the new options this gives us nationwide,” Flight Centre said in a statement.

The statement 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 shoots of growth but these remain to be 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 sector, we are having to consider making some very difficult business decisions and sadly one of those was exploring the potential closure of our stores in England and Scotland.

“We are in consultation generally with our workforce about our restructure proposals and we have recently confirmed to our people that we plan to reopen 12 stores (from our overall 78 footprint).

“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.

“Once demand lifts, we believe we will be well placed, having made these strategic decisions, to bounce back stronger than ever before.

“The focus is to maintain a strong concentrated presence of stores in the South East, however, we are working on both a virtual network of consultants and an ‘associates’ model to those consultants operating in regions without a store, which will allow a new flexible working model for them and enable them to maintain their strong relationships with our customers.  We are excited about the new options this gives us nationwide and we are working on some innovative new plans to bring this to life further.”

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