UK low-cost airline and holiday company Monarch Airlines has ceased trading and its 300,000 future bookings for flights and holidays have been cancelled, the Civil Aviation Authority has said. About 110,000 customers were overseas and the British government has asked the CAA to charter more than 30 aircraft to bring them back to the UK. Monarch is the UK’s fifth biggest airline and the country’s largest ever to go into administration.
Customers due to fly from the UK have been told not to go to the airport as there will be no more flights. Monarch had been in last-ditch talks with the CAA about renewing its licence to sell package holidays. It had until midnight on Sunday to reach a deal with the aviation authority but failed to do so.
The Sun has reported that “British tourists have been locked out of their hotel rooms and threatened with arrest over Monarch’s unpaid bills after the travel firm went bust.”
Andrew Swaffield, Monarch’s Chief Executive, said that he is “absolutely devastated” at the airline’s collapse. “The decision not to continue trading was made on Saturday night after estimating that losses for 2018 would be well over £100 million.” He blamed the company’s demise on “terrorism and the closure of some markets like Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt”, which led to more competition on routes to Spain and Portugal. “Flights were being squeezed into a smaller number of destinations and a 25% reduction in ticket prices on our routes created a massive economic challenge for our short-haul network.”
He explained that it was impossible for the airline to keep on flying beyond the weekend once the decision to close had been taken. “The UK insolvency framework doesn’t allow airlines to continue flying, unlike in Germany and Italy where we see that Air Berlin and Alitalia continued when they were in administration.”
Civil Aviation Authority
Andrew Haines, CAA Chief Executive, said: “We know that Monarch’s decision to stop trading will be very distressing for all of its customers and employees. This is the biggest UK airline ever to cease trading, so the government has asked the CAA to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the UK at the end of their holiday at no extra cost to them.
“We are putting together, at very short notice and for a period of two weeks, what is effectively one of the UK’s largest airlines to manage this task. The scale and challenge of this operation means that some disruption is inevitable. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring everyone home.”
Customers affected by the company’s collapse have been urged to check a dedicated website, www.monarch.caa.co.uk, for advice and information on flights back to the UK. It also gives information to those passengers that have future bookings with Monarch but are yet to leave the UK.
The CAA said that all Monarch customers who are abroad and due to return to the UK in the next two weeks will be flown home. The flights will be at no extra cost to passengers and they do not need to cut short their stay.