Australian company to create 30 jobs in Dublin

Flight Centre has an annual turnover of €13.3bn

President Higgins and his wife Sabina meet Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner (l). Also pictured is IDA Ireland chief executive Martin Shanahan. Photograph: Maxwell’s

President Higgins and his wife Sabina meet Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner (l). Also pictured is IDA Ireland chief executive Martin Shanahan. Photograph: Maxwell’s

 

Australian travel company Flight Centre is to create 30 jobs in its operation in Ireland over the next five years, bringing staff numbers in Dublin to more than 100.

The announcement was made on the visit of President Michael D Higgins to the company’s head office in Brisbane on the last day of his State visit to Australia before he flew on to New Zealand.

Flight Centre has a retail business on Dawson Street and a corporate business on Merrion Square. The company entered the Irish market in 2004 through a partnership arrangement with Corporate Travel Partners.

The Australian firm bought out the Dublin business in 2014 and extended its business from the corporate market into the leisure market. The corporate end employs 67 people, while the retail side has 14 staff.

Graham “Skroo” Turner, one of the company’s founders who started the business as a double-decker tour operator in 1973, told Mr Higgins that he was “really committed to growing our business in Ireland.”

“Unfortunately, we are not making profits there yet. We are about break even so we look forward to next year making a profit,” said Mr Turner, who trained as a vet before buying his first double-decker bus for 400 pounds.

The company, a well-known Australia high-street name, operates in 90 countries around the globe and employs 22,000 people, including 2,000 people in its Brisbane head office. The publicly quoted company has 700 retail outlets in Australia and has an annual turnover of $20 billion Australian dollars (€13 billion).

IDA Ireland chief executive Martin Shanahan, who accompanied Mr Higgins for the jobs announcement, said the expansion was significant because Flight Centre was a high-profile brand in Australia.

“We count jobs in ones, so every single one is important,” he said. “It is another example of Australian companies looking to Ireland as a place where they can consolidate their European business and operate from.”

Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said Flight Centre booked more than a fifth of all travellers to Ireland, or roughly 25,000 people, in the 12 months to date, an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year.

The State agency will be launching a campaign with Flight Centre shortly to promote Ireland as a destination. Mr Gibbons said that he is hopeful of visitor numbers from Australia breaking the 200,000 mark this year.

Brisbane-based James Kavanagh, general manager of Flight Control’s FCM Travel Solutions division who is emigrated Dun Laoghaire in 2003, said that many areas in online travel bookings have reached a peak and that the company offers a blended model, offering the advice of a travel consultant to help people book online.

“I am on the corporate side but on the leisure side, we are a lot of requests for Ireland constantly,” he said. “It never grows out of fashion.”

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