'No choice': Flight Centre NZ making 230 staff redundant as wage subsidy ends

COVID-19: Flight Centre NZ making 230 staff redundant as wage subsidy ends.
Photo credit: Getty

Travel retailer Flight Centre NZ has announced it's making 230 staff members permanently redundant, leaving the boss "gutted and saddened beyond words".

The move comes after an announcement from the Government that the COVID-19 wage subsidy is to end on September 1, combined with no way of knowing when border restrictions will be lifted. 

Flight Centre NZ's managing director David Coombes says after a period of consultation "it became clear that redundancy was the only viable option". 

"This is not a decision that we have made lightly," he said.

"We had every intent to bring our people back, but border controls have continued beyond all original expectations, and meaningful work for the scale of employees that we once had will not return for some time."

The job losses affect Flight Centre staff who were stood down earlier this year but continued to be paid thanks to the wage subsidy scheme. All contractual obligations will be met, the company says.

Flight Centre NZ initially received $6.5 million for 940 staff through the wage subsidy scheme and a further $3 million for 850 staff through its extension. The company says it has been "fighting" for yet more taxpayer funding to retain employees but "unfortunately we've not had that yet".

"Our core product - international travel - has effectively been taken from the shelves and, while we anticipate a strong rebound in time, it is impossible to predict the timeframe for recovery," Coombes said.

"We do not want to see these great people leave our business - We took every possible step to save these roles but, in the end, we were left with no choice."

Flight Centre NZ says it is assisting the employees being made redundant in finding alternative employment.