Leading UK carrier Monarch Airlines ceased operations and was placed into administration just after 04.00am London time this morning by international auditors KPMG, leaving 110,000 customers abroad and a further 0.3m facing holiday cancellations.
This is the UK’s largest-ever airline to enter administration, having routinely offered capacity of over 6m sector seats and tour operator passenger capacity for over 200,000 passengers a year, while also employing 2,100 airline and tour group staff.
ALL FLIGHTS EFFECTIVELY CANCELLED
The Luton Airport-based airline has now effectively cancelled all departing flights and customers due to fly today and beyond are being told not to travel to their airports. Until today, Monarch flew to over 40 destinations from five UK bases, including London Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds-Bradford and Luton.
[The closure of the airline will come as a big blow to Luton Airport, Monarch’s staff and the travel retail business, including Alpha LSG which has worked very well with Monarch to increase the travel retail spend onboard, while also rewarding crew members for their efforts-Ed].
Responding quickly to the effective grounding of Monarch, the UK Civil Aviation Authority and UK government are continuing to secure a fleet of more than 30 aircraft to fly to more than 30 airports to bring 110,000 people back to the UK at no cost. The CAA says this is ‘the equivalent of operating one of the UK’s largest airlines’ at very short notice.
The CAA says its main aim now is – and in the next two weeks – is to seek to repatriate passengers to the UK as close to their scheduled vacation return date as possible. In the meantime, those booked to fly in future are being directed to the monarch.caa.co.uk website for details on how to apply for refunds.
COST PRESSURES AND INCREASING COMPETITION…
Blair Nimmo, Partner at KPMG and Joint Administrator to the companies, 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 each 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.
BIGGEST UK AIRLINE FAILURE EVER
“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.”
Adding his comments, Andrew Haines, CEO of the CAA, 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.
“We urge people affected by the company’s collapse to check our dedicated website 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 administrators and the CAA say that two dedicated helplines have now been set up for customers in the UK and for customers overseas: UK – 0300 303 2800; and overseas – +44 1753 330330