Our history

Our company started with one double decker bus in 1973 - and over four decades has grown into a $19 billion dollar business with company-owned operations in 16 countries. Not bad for two vets from Queensland who wanted to see the world and take others on the journey.

How it all started

Oi! You there! You’ve clicked on this page, so you must have a hint of curiosity. Within these pages you’ll uncover the ancient secrets of Flight Centre and its beginnings. 

Are the rumours true!? When did it all begin? Who or what is Argas Persicus? What’s the deal with the Top Deck - did they really…

Want to know how this modern day empire started from basic building blocks? Then strap in for one helluva ride and one helluva story.

Get on board, Argas

It all began in 1973 when two mates, both trained vets, were on a working holiday in the UK. They were Graham Turner and Geoff Lomas - known as “Skroo” and “Spy”.

 

Their sense of adventure was so great, they decided to buy a double decker bus on a punt, and fit it out to be able to take paying customers on tours to destinations throughout Europe, and thus began their lives as tour company founders. They named the first bus Argas and their budding tour company “Argas Persicus” after the turkey tick (vet joke). They advertised the first overland trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco at £110 for 6 weeks.

Then in 1974 along comes Bill James (a passenger from the first trip) who purchases the second bus, calls it Grunt and becomes the third partner to Argas Persicus.

The company name is changed to Top Deck (good call) in 1975, paving the way for the modern Topdeck Travel touring company. In October 1975, Grunt set off to tour as the first double-decker from London to Kathmandu. By this stage with just 2 double-deckers they’d already made a profit of £15,000.

Coming into land near you

Bring on the 80s! 1981 saw the launch of Top Deck operations in the USA. In 1982, Flight Centre opened its first bricks-and-mortar store in Aus, and by the end of that year had 9 shops across Australia. The exponential growth was just getting started.

The business just kept expanding through the 80s (amongst a myriad of bad hairdos) - 1984 produced a record profit year of £60,000 for the London Flight Centre office and £50,000 for Top Deck Europe - who had 80 buses and 150 road crew by this stage.

The iconic Captain brand character started being shot in TV ads from 1988 and enquiries quadrupled after we introduced the line “Lowest Airfares Guaranteed” into our TV and press ads.

Our story begins

The 100th Flight Centre shop opened with a bang in 1992, which by this stage saw the growing business turning over a $4.5 million profit. In 1995 Flight Centre Limited was listed on the ASX, catapulting us through the 90s. ‘95 also marks the sale of our millionth Australian ticket sold. 

We go global and start operations in South Africa, Canada and the UK. We introduce our family, village and tribe internal structure. We create the Moneywise and Healthwise initiatives to benefit our people.

The cornerstones for future success were already cemented with our 10 key philosophies in place and a proven business model that had kept the company going for more than 2 decades already.

Where we are today

We back our people all the way and are strongly committed to supporting every single employee in their professional and personal development.

Over four decades, Flight Centre Travel Group has grown to become a $19 billion business. Our diverse offering of over 40 different brands within FCTG allows us to have company-owned operations in 23 countries and licenced operations in some 90 countries, giving us a truly global reach. 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of FCTG as a publicly listed company. Since then, we’ve returned almost $1.2 billion in dividends to our shareholders - that’s some cool moolah.

We are well placed to seize the opportunities of this Golden Era of travel with our global presence, multi-channel capabilities and diversity of brands. We are committed to sustainable travel, helping people along the way and are tackling the modern problems with a future-focussed outlook. 

We will always have our purpose at our core: to open up the world for those who want to see.

And that’s the story! But there’s so much more to come.

Become part of our current and unfolding story by starting a career with FCTG.

Looking back from my perspective today, I can see a broad theme for each decade in our story to date. In our first 10 years, we learn the basic principles of business and develop an understanding of how people want to work and to belong. Over the coming 10 years, our focus is continuing to grow the many aspects of our business successfully."

Graham “Skroo” Turner
Flight Centre
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