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.
— Monarch (@Monarch) October 2, 2017
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.