The director of South Shields-based agency Westoe Travel has urged Abta to used furloughed agents and tour operator staff to help process claims related to failed companies.

Graeme Brett said he wrote to the association’s chief executive Mark Tanzer after receiving an email on Thursday to say that claims related to Cruise & Maritime Voyages and other failed companies could take up to six months to process due to the volume of claims involved.

Brett said: “It is highly likely that there will be more failures and more claims to process so Abta has to get on top of the situation.

“We have thousands of travel agents and tour operator staff currently furloughed who could be brought in to assist with the claims.

“This would speed up the claims process and provide much needed additional income to staff of Abta members.”

Brett said the move would be a “win-win” for Abta and the industry, with the association shown to be supporting industry staff while ensuring claims would be processed quickly to generate goodwill from customers and the general public.

He added: “I hope that Abta can take the necessary steps to introduce this as a matter of urgency.”