Whanganui Chronicle

Opportunity knocks as travel agency shuts down. Made with funding from NZ On Air.

Whanganui’s Flight Centre office closed this week, although 40 still remain around the country. It’s a sign of the times, but the service will continue in Whanganui with two long-serving employees establishing Whanganui Flight Centre Travel Brokers.

Jo McDonnell and Sierra O’Donnell will miss customers calling into the Victoria St office, but both are looking forward to the new business model. The pair hope to move the office meetings into cafes, homes and wherever is convenient for their client.

“If clients need us to pop up to home with a glass of wine, it just gives us more flexibility in our role rather than staying in the store,” McDonnell said.

“A travel broker is an independently owned business but we still have the buying power of Flight Centre. We will also have more flexibility regarding working from home.”

While international travel has dropped drastically, it is still happening and the complexity of booking and regulations has increased dramatically. The pair hope to help people avoid the impact of Covid-related travel disruptions.

A local example came when recent alert level changes saw many people stranded after Jetstar decided to stop flying.

“We can get to Air New Zealand before all of those people making their calls to the 0800 number,” McDonnell said. “And you’re dealing with someone you know.”

Sadly McDonnell and O’Donnell can’t answer the big travel question: When will New Zealand’s bubble be extended to the Pacific Islands? In the meantime, they aren’t going to let a little global pandemic hold back their travel business.

Made with funding from

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