Unite, the trade union that negotiates on behalf of travel trade staff such as cabin crew, has condemned the secrecy surrounding struggling airlines such as XL and accused them of “treating their workforce and the trade unions representing them with contempt”.

“As recently as this week, representatives from Unite were discussing a wage claim with XL. It is appalling that employees have been left to hear of their fate through the media,” said Unite national officer Brian Boyd.

“Given the difficulties that aviation workers are facing today, to hide the plight of the business from its employees is a disgrace.”

The position of the 2,000 XL workers, with regards to their redundancy rights, is unclear as representatives from pilots’ union Balpa remain locked in talks with XL’s administrators.