Tourists stranded as Monarch nose­dives

UK’ s big­gest peace­time repa­tri­a­tion as firm goes bust

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - NEWS -

Travel firm Monarch has gone into ad­min­is­tra­tion, can­celling the flights and hol­i­days of 860,000 peo­ple.

Some 110,000 cus­tomers over­seas are be­ing flown home in what the govern­ment is calling the UK’s big­gest peace­time repa­tri­a­tion.

A fur­ther three-quar­ters of a mil­lion peo­ple held future book­ings with the travel firm.

Monarch’s board called in ad­min­is­tra­tors KPMG in the early hours of Mon­day morn­ing.

Ad­min­is­tra­tor Blair Nimmo said the com­pany, which em­ploys around 2,100 peo­ple across its air­line and tour group, had strug­gled with mount­ing costs and com­pet­i­tive mar­ket con­di­tions that saw it suf­fer sus­tained losses.

Pas­sen­gers al­ready abroad are be­ing flown home at no ex­tra cost.

Many are in pop­u­lar hol­i­day re­sorts in Spain and Por­tu­gal such as the Costa del Sol, the Algarve and the Ca­nary Is­lands.

The govern­ment has warned pas­sen­gers to ex­pect dis­rup­tion and de­lays as it works to en­sure there are enough flights to re­turn the “huge num­ber” of pas­sen­gers.

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.”

Those who have not yet de­parted will re­ceive a full re­fund if their book­ing was pro­tected by the Air Travel Or­gan­iser’s Licence.

If it was not, they may be able to seek com­pen­sa­tion through their travel in­sur­ance or credit card com­pany.

Many pas­sen­gers turned up at air­ports yes­ter­day morn­ing ready to go on hol­i­day only to find their flights were can­celled.

Monarch was still advertising flights on its web­site on Sun­day, mean­ing some pas­sen­gers may have booked trips even af­ter the com­pany’s bosses de- cided it would stop trad­ing. Ad­min­is­tra­tors are now con­sid­er­ing break­ing up the com­pany as no buyer has been found to pur­chase Monarch in its en­tirety.

Monarch, whose head­quar­ters are at Lon­don Lu­ton Air­port, was founded in 1967.

In a let­ter to staff, Monarch chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drew Swaffield said the “root cause” of the air­line’s plung­ing rev­enues was ter­ror at­tacks in Egypt and Tu­nisia, as well as the “dec­i­ma­tion” of the tourist trade in Turkey.

Air­line pas­sen­gers are hav­ing a hard time right now. First Ryanair can­cels thou­sands of flights and now Monarch has col­lapsed leav­ing more than 100,000 trav­ellers stranded abroad.

Monarch seems to have been caught be­tween strate­gies, un­sure whether to re­main bat­tling it out in the short-haul mar­ket or to put their money into low-cost long haul. In the light­ning-fast avi­a­tion in­dus­try they took too long to de­cide.

The prob­lem for all air­lines is that, with­out scale, it is hard to com­pete on both long and short-haul flights – and the con­stant need to drive down fares puts ex­tra pres­sure on air­lines af­fected by the weak pound and ris­ing fuel prices.

Those who suf­fer, as al­ways, are those who have lost their jobs and pas­sen­gers who bought tick­ets in good faith that their air­line was safe and strong.

Greater reg­u­la­tion of fares is not al­ways com­pat­i­ble with a low-cost en­vi­ron­ment but min­is­ters need to keep a close eye on the in­dus­try if they want to avoid hav­ing to mount more res­cue mis­sions for hol­i­day­mak­ers in the future.

GROUNDED: A Monarch plane at Lu­ton Air­port af­ter the firm col­lapsed into ad­min­is­tra­tion, re­sult­ing in book­ings and hol­i­days be­ing can­celled

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