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Huge collapse requires rescue of 110,000 travellers

October 3, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Britain’s largest peacetime repatriation was under way last night, with 110,000 passengers stranded and 300,000 future bookings being cancelled following the biggest financial collapse of an airline ever recorded in that country.

Accounting firm KPMG announced that Monarch Airlines had been placed into administration. All further Monarch flights from Britain have been cancelled and will not be rescheduled.

Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has chartered 30 planes for a massive rescue operation to bring Monarch customers home over the next two weeks. The scale of the effort is being compared to the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk during World War II.

The CAA said 300,000 future bookings had been cancelled and anyone who had booked holidays leaving Britain would not now be able to travel.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued the following advisory:

The UK airline and tour operator Monarch went into administration on 2 October 2017. Information and advice on flights, accommodation and reimbursement for expenses incurred is available at monarch.caa.co.uk, or through the Civil Aviation Authority’s 24-hour hotline on 0300 303 2800 (if calling from the UK) or +44 1753 330 330 (if calling from outside the UK).

British travellers are often better covered against defaults and travel company collapses than their Australian counterparts. As this collapse relates to a principal rather than a wholesaler, it may be a little different.

Nevertheless, ABTA (AFTA’s British equivalent) issued a reassuring statement this morning, as follows:

The vast majority of holidaymakers’ arrangements will be covered through different types of financial protection including credit and some debit card schemes, and they will either be entitled to a refund, or if they’ve booked through another travel company, they should contact them to discuss options which may include re-booking or alternative arrangements.

As there are a number of different companies involved, what customers should do next will depend on what kind of travel arrangement they have booked and with whom.

Monarch chief executive Andrew Swaffield blamed terror attacks for the company’s plight, saying in a letter to staff that attacks in Egypt and Tunisia and the decline of Monarch’s Turkey business were the “root causes” of its declining revenue. Swaffield said the airline was carrying 14% more passengers than last year but was making GBP 100 million (AUD 170.5 million) less revenue.

The decline of sterling following the Brexit vote also hurt the airline. So did the trend towards booking airfares and hotels separately online  – Monarch was heavily involved in the package market.

Monarch’s engineering arm, Monarch Aircraft Engineering, a joint venture with Boeing, continues to trade and will operate as normal.

The CAA placed the following notice on its website:

Monarch has confirmed that the following companies have ceased trading and now entered administration:

  • Monarch Airlines Ltd
  • Monarch Holidays Ltd (ATOL Number 2275) 
  • First Aviation Ltd (ATOL Number 4888) previously trading as Monarch Airlines
  • Avro Ltd (ATOL Number 1939)
  • Somewhere2stay Ltd

As a result, we are sorry to inform you that, as of 2 October 2017, all future holidays and flights provided by these companies have been cancelled and are no longer operating.

This is an unprecedented situation and because there are up to 110,000 passengers abroad, the UK Government has asked the CAA to coordinate flights back to the UK for all Monarch customers currently overseas. These new flights will be at no extra cost to you.

For more information see here.

CAA chief executive, Andrew Haines, told the Guardian the sheer scale of the collapse meant it could take two weeks to bring everyone home.

Britain’s Transport secretary, Chris Grayling, said he had “immediately ordered the country’s biggest-ever peacetime repatriation to fly about 110,000 passengers who could otherwise have been left stranded abroad. Nobody should underestimate the size of the challenge, so I ask passengers to be patient and act on the advice given by the CAA.”

Monarch, founded in 1968, was based at London Luton airport and also operated from London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds Bradford, flying to more than 40 destinations globally.

Monarch operated a fleet of 35 planes, mainly A320s and A321s. It was due next year to receive the first of 45 new Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft.

Written by Peter Needham

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