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An Open letter from Skroo Turner of Flight Centre!

March 30, 2021 Business News, Headline News No Comments Email Email

A week or so ago, to mark the one-year anniversary of Australia’s international border closures and the day that the global travel industry changed forever, Skroo Turner’s Flight Centre took a full-page ad in The Australian, with an open letter from Skroo in which he reflected on the challenges each and every Australian has faced over the past 12-months.

It was said by Flight Centre and Turner to be intended as a message of hope, saying the future of travel looking is brighter once again and Turner thanking both customers and Flight Centre employees, past and present, with Turner explaining, “In Flight Centre’s almost 40 years of operation, we have never been through anything as disruptive as what the last year has thrown at us,” and “Overnight, our business went from making travel dreams come true, to orchestrating rescue missions.

He also says, “I’ve been incredibly moved by the stories of our people at Flight Centre, inspired by those in the wider travel industry and by the support of our customers”, and “I want to acknowledge the support of our brand”, adding. “I am proud to say that our expert team of travel agents have brought home over 20,000 Australians that were stuck overseas since the pandemic started, and we have refunded $1.3 billion (and counting!) in refunds to Flight Centre clients for cancelled holidays”.

Flight Centre says that it is starting to see a strong upwards trend for interstate domestic travel with domestic air e-commerce customer numbers moving from 53% of prior year bookings in January to 86% in March, plus encouraging signs of the return of international travel are also prevalent with the Australian Federal Government this week announcing an anticipated Singapore bubble from July 2021 and New Zealand announcing it could decide as soon as Monday, but it did no happen, to open a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia from mid-April.

May I suggest that you draw your own conclusions regarding his letter, but please bear in mind that Flight Centre has laid off thousands of staff and closed hundreds of branches, which he sadly does not really refer to?

Also while he claims that Flight Centre has refunded $1.3b  for cancelled travel, there are still very many travellers indeed that have not received refunds from Flight Centre, including for example the guests booked on the cancelled New Zealand Le Laperouse cruises and to read more about that CLICK HERE

Also to read about the appalling Australia refunds situation, including involving Flight Centre CLICK HERE with the serious question of why travellers funds were not held in trust until they travel, is one for the future!

Back to Skroo. While I am not suggesting that he is not being genuine, it might have helped if he had said he was not taking a salary until things were better and of course he may not be, with back in March 2020, he did say that the senior leadership team was giving up 50 per cent of their salaries, but it is not known if that is still the case and whether than includes him.

Only recently in an article in Beef Central from The Australian, he was listed as 228 in Australia’s top 250 wealthiest people, with an estimated personal wealth of $506m although the previous year it was $855m, with the article saying: Flight Centre travel supremo Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner holds pastoral interests in southern Queensland, some of which are run alongside his Spicer’s five-star rural retreats business. He specialises in Wagyu beef production. His Flight Centre business was hit hard by last year’s COVID shutdown.

In any case, here you go, draw your own conclusions and let us have your comments below as Skroo did not leave an email address to respond to him! 

ONE YEAR ON 

Today marks one year since Australia closed its borders in response to a global pandemic no one could have imagined. 

Reflecting on this past year that has seen perhaps the most significant change in our lifetime, I’ve been saddened, I’ve been inspired, and I’ve been incredibly moved. 

Moved by the stories of our people here at Flight Centre, of those in the wider travel industry, and of our customers. 

To our customers, the people we wouldn’t exist without, thank you for sticking with us as we navigated the ultimate unknown. 

Thank you for trusting us when your flight home from London was cancelled just hours before departure, and for having confidence in us to get you a seat on the last flight out before a border ban came into effect. 

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we returned $1.3 billion (and still counting) in refunds for cancelled holidays. 

And thank you for choosing our experience, our knowledge and our expertise when booking your travel now, and in the future. 

To our people both past and present here at Flight Centre Travel Group, thank you. 

Never before in the almost 40 years since founding this company have I seen this level of blood, sweat and tears. 

Overnight our business went from making travel dreams come true, to orchestrating rescue missions. Our people have met families at the airport to welcome them as they finally land on home soil; and help parents who came to us desperate to get their teenagers home, even though they hadn’t booked with us. 

For all this and more, thank you.

There are so many of these heartwarming stories which have provided a much needed silver lining through the toughest of times. 

It’s moving and encouraging to see the way people have gone above and beyond, and we are lucky to have so many of those people here to help get our community through this period. 

We’ve been through a lot over the last 39 years here at Flight Centre, but nothing as disruptive as this. 

We’ve had to make the toughest decisions that have affected many of our people and their families; to ensure we’ll be here for another 39, providing jobs, supporting fellow Aussie businesses, and of course, opening up the world for those who want to explore it. 

One year on from when our world changed, we’re starting to see encouraging signs of the return of international travel and I’m excited. 

Here at Flight Centre, we pride ourselves on our experience because we’ve been there and been through it with you. 

I’m proud to say we’re looking forward to being there for many years to come because the future of travel is looking bright. 

Yours in travel,

 

 

 

 

 

 

An opinion and report by John Alwyn-Jones

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