This digital photograph depicts employees of Flight Centre Fairfield John Owen Scully and Rebecca Cooper during the State of Victoria's first COVID-19 lockdowns and associated 'stay at home' restrictions.
Both John Owen Scully and Rebecca Cooper had been working for Flight Centre for over 10 years when COVID-19 lockdowns were introduced in Victoria in March 2020. As bans on international and domestic travel were initiated worldwide and airlines rapidly cancelled flights, Flight Centre - and the travel sector more generally - was significantly impacted by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In June 2020, Rebecca Cooper reflected that 'when the COVID-19 restrictions started coming down worldwide, we needed to act quickly to get customers home, otherwise they would have been stranded. We got customers home from India, Europe, Africa, Columbia, Mexico, the United States, Vietnam - you name it! In a way it felt nice to do this work. Nothing says "essential worker" like being able to say you helped people get home to their families in their time of need!'
Both John Owen Scully and Rebecca Cooper reflected in June 2020 that they were 'fortunate to work for a travel company that is big enough to weather the storm and help customers get their money back.' Despite the fact that many of their colleagues had been stood-down, they looked forward to be able to 'bring our team members back from stand down' and 'send our customers away on amazing holidays again!'
Flight Centre was one of many global travel companies that was substantially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It recorded a $662 million net loss for the 12 months to June 30 after COVID-19 travel restrictions slowed its revenue substantially. The company undertook a $700 million capital raising and took on $200 million in fresh debt in April to boost its liquidity so it could make it through the extended pandemic shut down. Prior to the pandemic, Flight Centre had 740 stores across Australia. As of September 2020 there were 332 surviving retail outlets, with many of these in hibernation while travel restrictions remained in place.
This photograph was taken by Melbourne-based photographer Julie Ewing as part of her 'Across the Fence' photographic series. This series documents life in Melbourne's Darebin region during the first COVID-19 lockdowns that began in Victoria on 14 March 2020. Julie photographed 120 households and 60 businesses during March to May 2020, and this digital photograph is one of 24 images that were acquired into Museum Victoria's Collecting the Curve Collection. These photographs provide a lasting reminder of how neighbourhoods and households in Melbourne were impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic, as well as the unique ways through which individuals and communities adapted their lives and found new routines, traditions and ways of supporting one another.
Digital TIFF file
Donation from Julie Ewing
Collected as part of the Museum In My Neighbourhood project with support from the Office of Suburban Development.
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