UK’s Monarch Airlines Collapses Stranding 110,000 Passengers Abroad

UK-based Monarch Airlines has been troubled for awhile. There were rumors that Norwegian would acquire them for the carrier’s slots at London Gatwick. Instead the airline has ceased operations.

The airline’s planes are back in the UK, and the airline is under the control of administrators KPMG who do not have an air operator’s certificate. The license to operate planes was pulled once Monarch’s aircraft were on the ground.


Copyright: jremes / 123RF Stock Photo

The UK government launched what they described at the country’s ‘biggest peacetime repatriation mission’ securing 34 aircraft to fly 110,000 tourists home. They leased the fleet from at least 16 different airlines (including Qatar Airways and easyJet) to build a temporary carrier which would be one of the nation’s largest — if only for a brief moment in time. (This does raise the question of why they couldn’t extend Monarch’s license and funding long enough for them to do it with the aircraft they already had.)

Seven hundred flights will be operated over the next two weeks.

750,000 passengers have had future flights cancelled. Many will receive refunds, including through credit card disputes, but non-refundable package travel and hotels booked separately aren’t protected (though customers with non-refundable hotel can use refunds towards new tickets of course.) Vantage Club loyalty program members aren’t expected to receive anything of value. Monarch had 45 Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft on order. Those delivery positions will need to find new homes.

Monarch has operated since the last 1960s, though they have experienced rocky times recently. Their air operators certificate was temporarily suspended a year ago amidst rumors of a shutdown but they received additional financing from Greybull Capital which had acquired them two years earlier with the intention to turn around the struggling business. The weak British pound accelerated losses for the leisure airline, since UK residents had less financial strength to travel abroad.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I think you will see more cases like this as we get deeper into the critical pilot shortage. I had a number of conversations with friends that are Captains with various companies and their consensus is this will happen.. Note several of them are retiring early, reason not enjoyable anymore

    It’s not as much fun flying these days as it use to be.

  2. If the weak British pound is, in fact, implicated in the collapse of this airline then this dislocation can be chalked up, in part, to Brexit.

  3. This might be a dumb question, but how is it the government’s responsibility to get these people back home?

  4. I have not heard a thing about Monarch, so Gary your post was informative. I used to read WSJ and sometimes FT, but not much lately.

  5. A big part of Monarch’s problems were that they were heavily present in the Turkey and Egypt markets and both of those have contracted due to political challenges. They then were a bit stuck competing in flights to Spain/the Med where there was then overcapacity. And of course Brexit hit the value of the pound, making vacations in Europe more expensive. Kind of a 1-2-3 punch that was just too much. It’s a shame since they were making real progress.

    As for why the government is repatriating the people, it’s because there are government sponsored insurance programs that cover this kind of thing when airlines/vacation companies go out of business. It was the loss of this coverage that precipitated the collapse. One can argue about the merits of these schemes, but it does mean that lots of holidaymakers are not stuck overseas with no way to get home.

  6. Nothing to do with Brexit, it is to do with lack of bums on seats, and the removal of flights to Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey etc. Low cost operations are fighting for the same customer at the end of the day, and the non-renewal of the licence was the last straw.

    Taha – it is the CAA that will bring the customers home, nothing directly to do with the Government, but the CAA are the Civil Aviation Authority, and a public corporation, charged by the government to operate independently using the charges it places to those that receive a service.

    It is a shame that Monarch are gone, but they have been suffering for years, and it was only a matter of time they followed Air Berlin and Alitalia.

  7. Nothing to do with Brexit. The only scalps, lives, body parts, jobs…are taken by the Jihadis.

    The sudden closure of one of Britain’s oldest airlines has been blamed on terror attacks against tourists and political instability in key holiday destinations, which the carrier boss said had severely damaged the market for flights.

    Writing to staff on Monday as the airline grounded all planes and cancelled tens of thousands of bookings, Monarch boss Andrew Swaffield explained: “The root cause is the closure, due to terrorism, of Sharm-El- Sheikh and Tunisia and the decimation of Turkey.”

  8. last month i travel from Newcastle to London the reason was my new job here in London. He had a lot of thing to move. i was lucky enough to get a very low price air ticket for north Monarch Airlines. Because i was moving in London i had a lot of stuff which i want to take along with me so for the language i hired a van from deliveryd2d.com they price for very low as compare to other moving companies and the driver was very help full and plus my delivery was right on time. deliveryd2d.com were in touch with me through out the move. i always travel through British airline this was first time i went for last month i travel from Newcastle to London the reason was my new job here in London. He had a lot of thing to move. i was lucky enough to get a very low price air ticket for north Monarch Airlines. because i was moving in London i had a lot of stuff which i want to take along with me so for the language i hired a van from deliveryd2d.com they price for very low as compare to other moving companies and the driver was very help full and plus my delivery was right on time. deliveryd2d.com were in touch with me through out the move. i always travel through Monarch Airlines as the in-flight entertainment all worked with an excellent selection, the crew were attentive and the food was surprisingly good. The highly recommend Monarch Airlines. The in-flight entertainment all worked with an excellent selection, the crew were attentive and the food was surprisingly good. The highly recommend Monarch Airlines.

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