The “biggest peacetime repatriation” of passengers stranded overseas after the collapse of Monarch Airlines is taking place. The UK CAA is organising flights to bring about 110,000 people home, chartering more than 30 aircraft and effectrively becoming the UK’s biggest airline for a short period.
Monarch Airlines went into administration at 0400 BST. It as the UK’s fifth biggest airline and is the largest ever to go bust. Passengers are being told not to go to the airport – there will be no more Monarch flights. An estimated 300,000 flights are affected.
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive 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.”
Pilots and crew
Of course, it’s not just passengers affected. Pilots and cabin crew have lost their jobs.
Brian Strutton, general secretary of BALPA, the pilots’ union, said: “The thoughts of all UK airline pilots are with our friends and colleagues in Monarch today.
“This is an extremely difficult situation for everyone involved, but especially for Monarch staff members who, in the case of many pilots, have spent their whole careers working for Monarch and are now to be made redundant.
“We will be working with our partner airlines across the UK and with our Monarch members to try and help them secure new jobs as quickly as possible. The skill, experience and professionalism of Monarch pilots cannot and must not be allowed to ebb from our aviation industry.”
It has been suggested that Ryanair, with a current shortage of pilots, could benefit by employing Monarch pilots. However, the Monarch fleet is largely Airbus aircraft while Ryanair flies Boeing so it would take time to organise and retrain for a new type rating. Monarch had ordered 45 of the latest Boeing 737 MAX aircraft with the first due to arrive in 2018. No word yet on what’s happening to that order.