Time runs out for Monarch Airlines; operations halted

Monarch Airlines A320 G-ZBAB by Andy Mitchell CC-SA https://www.flickr.com/photos/monstermunch/16311233491/in/photolist-fDNypE-koHE16-qRnkrD-qtsaHJ-9yZHvW-nPbUMv-mbDXp8-df4P1d-fW133q-mbFECP-qyXijo-9ccH9q-qvTej5-fCu6qq-iLGVoQ-nPVZXW-o77iCx-o5nnrw-efYAK8-8bqybv-iGGjtS-o6e4o5-koKdF5-nPVeb2-eZ2Hvw-c1u3A9-jSfe6G-fvPorM-mbJzT1-iDm4Bs-fw4Bcf-eyYfbn-dKxtWg-o6yv5L-iS3Dkf-9JAVkC-aDgT4d-aQ4TPz-nPVZJZ-8WZVec-o5neLw-nPj2ep-pbA1Tc-fZrWfd-oY4292-8X14qp-iS1Lbz-iNk92N-qSi5BX-9CXMd8/

Monarch Airlines has carried UK tourists on holiday for more than 50 years. That run came to an end this morning as the administrators were appointed to oversee the company’s bankruptcy. Approximately 110,000 Monarch passengers are believed to be out of the country and in need of repatriation at this time. More than 2,100 employees are affected by the company dissolution.

Consequently, all flights operated by Monarch Airlines from the UK, and all future holidays booked with Monarch Travel Group, are cancelled with immediate effect.

Monarch will not be able to reschedule these flights or holidays. Passengers due to fly with Monarch from the UK are advised not to travel to their airport, unless they have booked alternative arrangements.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), with assistance from the administrators and employees of the company, and at the request of the Government, will be coordinating the repatriation of Monarch customers who are currently overseas and who are scheduled to fly to the UK over the next two weeks at no cost to them.

These customers are advised to NOT TRAVEL TO THE AIRPORT until they have seen confirmation of their new flight on monarch.caa.co.uk.

Fewer than 10% of Monarch’s passengers bought travel packages; like many travel groups of the past the company shifted its business dramatically to cater to flight-only passengers under pressure from LCCs. This matters because the ATOL insurance scheme run by the CAA that protects package tourists does NOT provide the same protections to flight-only travelers. Despite that lack of ATOL protection the CAA is including the non-ATOL customers in its recovery plans:

Our primary focus for the next 48 hours is to work with the Civil Aviation Authority to provide the infrastructure and information needed to help the Government and CAA with the safe repatriation of approximately all the 110,000 customers who are currently overseas and due to travel back to the UK within the next two weeks. This includes all those whose trip is not specifically covered by ATOL protection. The CAA has provided funding to enable the Group to retain a number of employees to assist us with the provision of this information. – Blair Nimmo, Partner at KPMG and Joint Administrator to the companies

Due to high volumes of affected passengers the company is asking that travelers use the website for most communications and rebooking details. For travel within 48 hours phone hotlines have been established:

  • Customers in the UK: 0300 303 2800
  • Customers overseas: +44 1753 330330

While the bulk of the Monarch family of companies is affected by the events this week one segment is not. Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited and Monarch Aircraft Engineering LLC (Monarch Ukraine) are not in administration and continue to trade as normal. This is significant for Virgin Atlantic, among others, that use the Monarch Engineering group for maintenance operations on its fleet.

Read More: Monarch Airlines’ Monty Python Performance

This is the second time Monarch Airlines stood on the brink of collapse. Last year a “shadow” airline of chartered aircraft set up at various Monarch destinations, ready to process passenger repatriations. That fleet was never used as Monarch managed to secure funding for an extra year of service. This year that will not be the case. The company faced massive challenges the past 12 months from a combination of Brexit, currency rate pressures, terror events in Europe and the ever-growing LCC segment, including EasyJet that has a hub at Luton, Monarch’s home base. In the end it was simply too much for the company to shoulder.

Read More: Monarch Airlines’s Shadow Airline Grows

This time around the “shadow” airline does not include all the 747s that showed up last year; most are now retired from service which does not help much. The CAA did bring in ten Qatar Airways A320s, following on the operation by British Airways to work through its most recent cabin crew strike. The QR-operated rescue flights are operating with BA flight numbers. Air Transat, easyJet, Hi Fly, and Freebird Airlines are also involved in the repatriation flight efforts.

Header image: Monarch Airlines A320 G-ZBAB by Andy Mitchell CC-SA

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.