Flight Centre still on edge due to virus

Flight Centre says it has weathered the financial storm sparked by the coronavirus pandemic; however, the company says conditions remain volatile while the virus continues to stifle the international travel industry.

The global travel company on Thursday posted an interim loss of $233.2m for the first six months of the 2021 financial year, largely off the back of its holiday bookings business being grounded since March last year.

Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner said the travel company had lowered its cost base by approximately 66 per cent despite facing the toughest operating conditions in its near 40-year history.

“Rather than enter a holding pattern ahead of future domestic and international border reopenings, we are taking steps to ensure we are well placed for the eventual recovery,” Mr Turner said.

Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner says the company has become a leaner and more efficient business. Picture: Annette DewSource:News Corp Australia

“We have become a leaner and more efficient business with a long liquidity runway, which has been crucial during this challenging and uncertain period.”

Flight Centre noted its recovery was largely dependent on the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, which are set to bring a higher level of consumer confidence and ease the anxiety of snap border lockdowns.

The company highlighted revenue intake in December had reached a new post-pandemic high to $33.5m, primarily a result from pent-up demand for domestic travel following the easing of state border restrictions.

It is anticipating pent-up demand for holidays domestically will assist in a swifter recovery for the business.

“Based on what we have seen so far, travellers have been keen to take off as soon as they have been allowed to do so, which should ultimately lead to a very solid rebound,” Mr Turner said.

Flight Centre noted its recovery was largely dependent on the rollout of coronavirus vaccines. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye GerardSource:News Corp Australia

The head of the Queensland-based travel company believes international travel will resume later in the year with countries deemed to be a low transmission risk.

“We expect travel restrictions will ease over the next few months given that high-risk and vulnerable people, who are being prioritised in most programs, will be protected,” he said.

“This should allow domestic travel restrictions to be removed permanently and international travel to return in some countries later this year, probably via low-risk corridors initially for those who have been vaccinated and have the appropriate health passports, which we believe will be mandatory and is an area that we have proactively expanded into.”

Flight Centre said it was unable to provide a guidance outlook for 2021 due to the pandemic.

It also during the first half of financial 2021 extended its liquidity runway by $1.2bn to assist in keeping the company afloat while operating conditions remained fragile.

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