Kiss Flights and its parent ­company Meridian Aviation have denied offering seats for next summer in excess of their ATOL ­licence.

Seat-only operator Kiss launched in September following XL Leisure Group’s collapse and is targeting the market vacated by Freedom Flights – XL’s former seat-only operation. It sells through the trade from the same office as Meridian Aviation.

Meridian holds an ATOL for 25,000 passengers for summer 2009. Yet the Kiss Flights website appears to offer more than 137,000 return seats between May 1 and ­October 29 2009 – with two aircraft flying twice a day from Gatwick and Manchester to 11 destinations in the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt and Tenerife.

Meridian managing ­director Andre Cashia confirmed ­Meridian’s ATOL covers the Kiss programme, but said: “A lot of the flying involves third parties. We specialise in selling third party to a number of ­independent operators.”

These third party operators include Mark Warner, “a number of Egyptian companies” and “a Turkish operator in the UK”, he said.

Former Freedom Flights managing director Paul Moss, who joined Kiss in September, confirmed: “We do not have the whole aircraft – we have seat allocations. The rest are sold to third-party operators.

“We would need to vary our licence if we decided to sell more, and we would have to do that prior to selling the seats.”

He added: “Sales are going well in light of the economic situation and we are happy with the trade support. But it is very early to say whether we will vary the licence. Bookings for 2009 are few and far between.”

A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said: “Companies should have an ATOL to cover the number of passengers they plan to carry. The CAA will ­consider an application to ­extend an ATOL on its merits.”

Meridian is the general sales agent for Air Malta. However, the Kiss programme will be operated by Stockholm-based Viking Airlines, which will use two 189-seat Boeing 737-800s.