Monarch flights grounded as airline appoints administrators

Troubled airline Monarch has slipped into administration, leaving flights axed, some 110,000 customers currently overseas and more than 2,000 jobs in the balance.

The future of the UK’s fifth biggest airline has been was in the balance all last week after talks with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over the airline’s eligibility to sell package holidays came under question.

Monarch tweeted last at 4.20am this morning: “Monarch customers in the UK: don’t go to the airport. There will be no more Monarch flights. This page will no longer be monitored.”

A statement from the CAA said: “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.”

Around 1,400 passengers turned up overnight at Birmingham Airport expecting to catch flights, only to be told that the airline had ceased trading.

In a statement, the airport said: “It is with regret we have been notified this morning that Monarch Airlines has gone into administration and has ceased trading with immediate effect.

“Passengers due to travel with Monarch are advised not to come to the airport as there will be no more Monarch flights from the UK.

“We’re working closely with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Department for Transport (DfT) to support the effort to repatriate customers back to the UK over the coming weeks. The CAA will bring all passengers back to the UK at no cost to them.”

It has advised anyone booked to travel with Monarch to visit or call 0300 303 2800 from within the UK or +44 1753 330330 from overseas.

The airline has a larger presence at Birmingham than most regional airports because of a large maintenance hangar there.

However, this is separate to the main airline and the facility, which opened in 2013, also services non-Monarch aircraft.

The company operating the hangar, Monarch Aircraft Engineering Ltd, is not one of those listed as being in administration.

Blair Nimmo, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “Mounting cost pressures and increasingly competitive market conditions in the European short-haul market have contributed to the Monarch Group experiencing a sustained period of trading losses. This has resulted in Management appointing us as administrators in the early hours of this morning.

“While this timing is unusual in insolvency situations, it was necessary for the appointment to be made once all Monarch aircraft were on the ground. This only occurs in the early hours of the morning. Once the company entered insolvency, the Air Operating Certificate it needs to be able to fly was effectively suspended, which is why all outbound flights were cancelled with immediate effect.

“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.”

The administrators plan to talk to the airline’s employees today to explain the situation, as well as arranging for its leased aircraft to be returned to their owners.

The rescue of the holidaymakers stranded abroad is thought to be the largest peacetime repatriation of British citizens.

Around 35 planes from other operators are being pressed into service by the CAA to complete the operation.

The response means the government has agreed that passengers will not be charged for repatriation flights. Work is underway to recoup costs from the ATOL scheme and card providers.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is a hugely distressing situation for British holidaymakers abroad – and my first priority is to help them get back to the UK.

“That is why I have immediately ordered the country’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation to fly about 110,000 passengers who could otherwise have been left stranded abroad.

“This is an unprecedented response to an unprecedented situation. Together with the CAA, we will work around the clock to ensure Monarch passengers get the support they need.”


Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...