Flight Centre is adding £6,000 to starting salaries from next week, meaning a travel agent could earn between £25,000 and £26,000, including commission, in their first year.

Managing director Chris Galanty said basic starting salaries were going up from £12,000 to £18,000 from July 1, plus commission.

“We have to do this, because the reality is that in our industry it takes time to be really good at your job, so this allows new starters to earn really well, even in year one,” he said.

“If you’re going to be a serious offline player in travel, you’ve got to be good at staff retention, so higher starting salaries will help this.”

Galanty added: “A lot of our very loyal repeat customers, who are really valuable to us, come back and book because of the agent they dealt with.

“If that agent moves on, very often their customer goes with them. An £18,000 starting salary is very good in this industry so this should help ensure they stay.”

Flight Centre is also looking to recruit another 200 staff this year across all 10 of the brands it operates in the UK.

Up to 60 positions are being created by the opening of a big Flight Centre store on Oxford Street in central London. It will be the first travel agency in the famous shopping street, according to Galanty.

Shops are also opening in Oxford and on Birmingham’s New Street, and another 40 “complex air fare specialists” will be added to its Round the World Experts team, taking the total number to 100 by December.