Abta LifeLine has received enquiries for help from travel industry staff concerned about having to reduce working hours amid the continuing coronavirus outbreak.

Trudie Clements, the charity’s director, said agents had got in touch on Tuesday asking what services and support were available to them in the likely event their hours were cut.

A number of airlines have already said they will be laying off staff temporarily as capacity is cut while travel agency groups say they are putting contingency plans in place.

“We do not know what is coming our way,” Clements said. “This is unprecedented demand on the charity.”

Clements said coronavirus-related advice for agents and supplier employees would be available on the Abta LifeLine site “by the start of next week”.

Thanks to a partnership with Citizens Advice Manchester, concerned staff can access financial advice, help claiming benefits and emergency assistance through Abta LifeLine.

Clements appealed for donations to be made to the charity which is still dealing with the fallout from Thomas Cook.

“Our aim is to raise funds from an industry that is cutting back. It is going to be a challenge.”

She said: “I think that the message that I am trying to get out there is if people are worried and if they are having to reduce their work hours or they get the virus we are here to help.

“It is just letting people know about the service that we offer and support that we can provide.”

Travel agency groups said planning for all possible scenarios was a sensible move, although none so far has announced cuts in staff hours.

Gary Lewis, chief executive, The Travel Network Group said: “All businesses should be planning now. We have been having conversations with members for three weeks and plans are well in hand. Some members have made decisions already and many will be taking action as they judge how the situation unfolds. This is the time to be honest and control the areas that can be controlled.”

Alistair Rowland, chief retail officer, specialist business, The Midcounties Co-operative, said: “We are working on scenario planning as a responsible retailer, but we are unlikely to react immediately as the outlook is so uncertain, we need to be ready when the volume recovers.”