Flight Centre Travel Group announced on Thursday morning that 3,800 sales and support employees would be either stood down or made redundant in Australia.
The business will also now shut 30 per cent of its leisure outlet shops across multiple brands at home, and 35 per cent worldwide.
Finally, a raft of cost-cutting measures will take effect to halt the downtime caused by the coronavirus crisis, including pausing its $15 million marketing spend, renegotiating rents and instigating a 50 per cent pay cut for senior executives and board members.
Globally, the move will affect 6,000 of its 20,000 staff, meaning the group will “initially” retain 70 per cent of its workforce.
In a statement released to the ASX, the business maintained it intends to return stood-down staff to the workforce when the restrictions are lifted.
The company blamed travel restrictions and new social distancing policies for the decision.
It said that its staff are now “working tirelessly” to help repatriate Australians stranded by the coronavirus crisis, and flagged South America, South Africa and the UK as areas of concern.
Managing director Graham Turner said, “We are dealing with unprecedented restrictions and extraordinary circumstance that are having a significant impact on our customers, people, suppliers and all other stakeholders.
“People are effectively unable to travel in the near term, either domestically or internationally, and some are actually unable to be repatriated to their home countries, which is affecting thousands of people and is a problem that we’re working to help solve.
“Our people have been working tirelessly to help our customers amend their plans, but unfortunately, the vast proportion of the work that they would normally undertake has now been stopped.”
The permanent store closures, in particular, appear to represent a significant increase from the previous announcement that 100 stores, or 11 per cent of its network, would close. On 13 March, the business said it would suspend non-essential projects and ask employees to take leave.
Then, Turner said, “As we saw with both SARS and the GFC in Australia, the rebound can be relatively fast and strong after a fairly significant downturn in international travel.”
On 27 February, Flight Centre Travel Group revealed that its half-year profits after tax plunged 74 per cent, from $85 million to just $22.1 million