Entry-level jobs in travel are scarce, training is frequently “woeful” and a downturn can only make things worse, said travel bosses at a Barclays panel discussion on the future of air travel.

Advantage chief executive John McEwan said: “People treat training as a cost when it is an investment – and, in a downturn, what do they look at cutting? The lack of investment in training across the board is woeful.”

Training is essential for independent agents, he said. “You need to have more knowledge than the customer or why would they come to you?”

Aviation analyst John Strickland argued: “Basic jobs in travel are increasingly not there. The telesales jobs are in Bangalore, the check-in jobs have been replaced by self-service kiosks.

“So how do you get into the travel industry at the ground level?”