The new TUI Travel group has revealed ambitions to establish itself as a leading global travel provider amid concerns consolidation among the big four will leave independent agents in the UK frozen out.

There are widespread fears that with two big heavyweights flexing their muscles to achieve dominance, access to product could be denied or commission scrapped altogether.

Both the merged MyTravel/Thomas Cook and Thomson/First Choice groups have said they will maintain their key third-party relationships and are looking to grow through acquisition.

First Choice chief executive Peter Long said the new TUI Travel group will keep open all distribution channels.

“We have our own controlled in-house retail channel and we will have our online channel and our call centres. The consumer demands all of these, but there are an awful lot of consumers who do want to sit face-to-face with an expert.

“We see this merger as a platform for building a global business. We already operate in 20 countries and our focus now will be on further expansion in North America and Asia Pacific, particularly China. These are hugely attractive markets. It’s very exciting.”

Advantage director Steven Freudmann said: “Triton has a good relationship with Thomas Cook and MyTravel, but what if that ends? Where is the stock going to come from?”

Hays Travel sales and development director David Hawke said: “There could be some issues with product availability.”

However, both added independents could fill gaps left on the high street as the big two reduce their retail networks.

Future Travel managing director Alistair Rowland believes the emergence of a big two will make the buying power of a consortium more important for independent agents.

The mergers means travel will have two FTSE 100 companies, which Long said would only raise the profile of the sector if both improve margins.