First Choice was “forced” into the merger with TUI by the MyTravel/Thomas Cook deal, according to Lastminute.com chief executive Ian McCaig.

McCaig warned there will be little product differentiation between the mass market players when the big four become two and scale will be needed to compete on price.

“Have you ever seen a bloke move so fast as Mr Long [First Choice chief executive Peter Long] when he realised he was going to be stuck in the void?”

Meanwhile, TUI Northern Europe new media director Graham Donoghue said he had been gathering evidence for the competition authorities to demonstrate how the travel market has moved online over the past 10 years.