Southend travel agency Airflights Direct has ceased trading and administrators have been called in.

According to the Southend Standard, the agency in Westcliff had been trading for 18 years, but was taken over by Robert Oppenheimer in July 2012.

The business was set up by Peter Cole, 72, of Shoebury, but he allowed Oppenheimer to take over last year due to family illnesses, the newspaper reported.

The agency, which employed 10 staff, was deserted when a reporter visited yesterday. Adminstrators Valentine and Co have been called in.

An Abta spokeswoman said approximately 554 bookings, mainly to Greece, had been affected by the failure.

A statement on the website confirmed that Airflights Direct had ceased trading and would enter administration on October 21. Customers are advised to contact Abta on 0845 330 6415.