Brent Hoberman - the founder of who steered it through the crash and its takeover by Travelocity - has stepped aside from the day-to-day running of the business.

Mr Hoberman announced that he will take up the role of part-time chairman of the firm he set up with Martha Lane Fox eight years ago.

He will be succeeded as chief executive by Ian McCaig, who was appointed as chief operating officer in 2003 and was responsible for the group's operations throughout Europe.

In a statement, Mr Hoberman said a part-time role would enable him to spend more time on other projects.

"Since I co-founded in 1998 I haven't seen much daylight and I feel it's time to broaden out a little," he said.

Mr McCaig, aged 40, takes over at a time when the travel industry looks set for a new round of consolidation and opportunities are appearing as consumers rethink how they book overseas holidays.

Sabre - the parent company of Travelocity - paid £577 million for lastminute a year ago to accelerate its expansion beyond basic air travel.

Mr Hoberman owned 4.6 per cent of the shares and netted £26.9 million when the 165p-a-share deal went through last year.