Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Friday, 12 September 2008 12:39 UK

Jobs fears at holiday call centre

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XL customers and employees speak to BBC Wales about the firm's collapse

About 150 staff who work for a subsidiary of travel operator XL have been sent home with their call centre jobs in Swansea in jeopardy.

Travel City Direct, which provides package holidays to Florida and Caribbean as well as rugby tours and school trips, held a staff meeting on Friday.

The XL Leisure Group, which operates XL airlines, flies to 50 destinations.

All its flights have now been cancelled and its aircraft grounded.

Travel City Direct's customer services department was based at the Swansea Enterprise Park at Llansamlet and after an early morning meeting there staff were sent home.

David Hopkin, 29, who worked with the company for a year and a half, believes he has lost his job - and his wedding plans in the Caribbean, booked through XL, have also fallen through.

He and his girlfriend intended to marry on the Caribbean island of St Lucia and he booked all his family's tickets with XL.

David Hopkin
Effectively I've lost my job and my wedding
David Hopkin, call centre worker

"I was due to get married in March next year in the Caribbean but they pulled the Caribbean programme and by doing so I had to try and reorganise and rebook everything for October this year before the Caribbean programme ceased to exist on 1 November.

"I got up this morning to find out, not only have I lost my job, but I had my wedding booked for next month for myself and all my family," Mr Hopkin said.

He said he had booked flights only for them through XL and consequently they would not be compensated.

"Effectively I've lost my job and my wedding," he added.

Rachael Humphries who has worked at the company for six years described the situation as a "nightmare".

"I just want to know whether we'll get paid for the last two weeks we've worked - or what's going to happen," she said.

The Swansea cell centre handled bookings for more than 170,000 passengers to Florida last year and has been operating for more than 10 years.

Travel City Direct, which also deals with holidays to the Caribbean, was part of the Really Great Holiday Company before it was bought in 2005.

XL, which is Britain's third largest package holiday group, went into administration and has yet to say how the jobs in Wales will be affected.

Cardiff airport sign
XL last month announced plans to fly from Cardiff to Florida from 2009

The group is the latest travel business to face financial difficulties, as the industry struggles with high fuel costs and an economic downturn.

XL, which currently flies from airports including Bristol, last month announced plans to fly from Cardiff to Florida from 2009.

The XL group, which is based in Crawley, West Sussex, runs an airline and owns several travel companies, including Travel City Direct, Medlife Hotels Limited, The Really Great Holiday Company, Freedom Flights and Kosmar Holidays.

The group, which carried 2.3 million passengers last year, has 1,700 employees worldwide.

A statement on the XL group's website said: "The companies entered into administration having suffered as a result of volatile fuel prices, the economic downturn, and were unable to obtain further funding."

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said 85,000 people could be stranded abroad and 200,000 have made advance bookings with the company.




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