A TRAVEL agent which took over a raft of former Thomas Cook stores has announced major job losses.

Bosses at Hays Travel, which reopened closed Thomas Cook sites in Blackburn, Burnley and Colne, say they are to cut up to 878 jobs out of a total workforce of 4,500 people.

Travel bans and quarantine headaches have been cited as reasons behind the firm's troubles.

In a joint statement, Hays Travel owners John and Irene Hays said: "We are devastated that after all of our efforts and the huge investment we've made we now face losing some of our valued employees, through no fault of their own.

"Following the decision to ban travel to Spain and the changes in furlough conditions coming at the same time, we have had no choice.

"We are also devastated for everyone who may lose their job and we will do all we can in consultations to help them, as we focus on retaining as many people as possible and rebuilding consumer confidence through our renowned friendly and knowledgeable customer service."

The locations of any at-risk jobs have yet to be revealed.

Last December the firm, featuring a number of former Thomas Cook staff members, reopened premises in King William Street, Blackburn, after previously rescuing similar operations on St James Street in Burnley and Market Street in Colne.