Thomas Cook group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa has predicted between 10 and 15 companies will fail within the next three months.

The warning came as he admitted his planned meeting with transport secretary Geoff Hoon regarding the current ATOL system was unlikely to lead to a shake-up of the financial protection system.

Fontenla-Novoa forecast a tranche of failures in early 2009, including more airlines, and warned that any companies that have not got their banking facilities in place will struggle to survive next year in the current economic downturn.

He said: “Any company that has not got its banking facilities in place will struggle next year. Getting banking facilities in place is extremely difficult. We are just about to enter the lower cash point of the cycle and if they cannot get facilities in place they will go bust.”

He added: “I think ten to 15 companies will go bust  over the next three months. If they survive the next three months, they have got a chance.”

The message follows recent high-profile failures such as XL Leisure Group, which collapsed in September, taking 7%-10% capacity out of the market for 2009.

Fontenla-Novoa is due to meet Hoon early next year to lobby for wider consumer financial protection. Rival Peter Long, chief executive of the TUI Travel group, recently met Hoon and said the secretary of state did acknowledge that the current regulatory position is confusing for customers.

But Fontenla-Novoa claimed the strength of the airline lobby meant change was unlikely. He added: “I think the government has made its position clear.”