Kenny Picken, managing director, Traveltek, responds to the failure of XL Leisure Group.

“This is a crushing blow for the sector – rumours over the last couple of weeks have been rife.

“While [the failure] was mooted, many of our clients kept faith in XL, believing, or perhaps praying, that it would survive.

“Losing Freedom Flights is a tragedy and it is hard to imagine that it will not be ‘picked up’ while in administration.

“Non-package trips are here to stay, make no mistake, because the consumer demands them. The sector, while badly damaged, will survive. During these tough times, we have to expect a re-aligning of the sector, but it will bounce back.

“I don’t believe the consumer is educated to understand the fine print of the non-package holiday. Our major tour operators are selling more and more dynamically packaged trips than ever as they continue to cut capacity and ‘de-commit’ their stock.

“However, there is no doubt that consumers need protection and the government/Civil Aviation Authority must act to ensure our consumers are protected, but this will come as a levy as opposed to a return to traditional tour operator status. Those days are gone forever.

 “XL employed a lot of good people and we have to be supportive of them.”