Monarch collapses prompting "biggest ever peacetime repatriation" of 110,000 stranded passengers

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Monarch is the third large European airline to fail this year (Source: Monarch)

Monarch has ceased operations with immediate effect having collapsed into administration this morning.

Around 110,000 passengers have been left stranded overseas. Authorities are promising to ensure they are flown back home in what transport secretary Chris Grayling called "the country’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation".

All flights have been cancelled and authorities are urging passengers with tickets not to travel to airports.

It is the largest ever failure by a British airline.

The airline, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and administrators from KPMG made the announcement shortly after 4am this morning.

For passengers currently abroad and due to fly home before 15 October, the CAA is making arrangements to put on its own flights. It told passengers to check the following website for further information: https://monarch.caa.co.uk/

The first emergency flight has already landed, the CAA said,

CAA statement and advice

"All future Monarch Airlines bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled following a decision by the company's board to stop trading. This is the UK's largest ever airline to enter administration.

"As all of Monarch's flights due to depart from the UK have now been cancelled, customers should not go to their UK airport. Affected customers still in the UK should check monarch.caa.co.uk for further information.

"Due to the unprecedented number of UK consumers currently overseas who are affected by this airline administration, the CAA and Government are securing a fleet of more than 30 aircraft, flying to more than 30 airports, to bring 110,000 people back to the UK at no cost to them. This is the equivalent of operating, at very short notice, one of the UK's largest airlines."

Read more: Monarch Airlines handed 24-hour licence reprieve by airline authority

Grayling said: “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. Together with the Civil Aviation Authority, we will work around the clock to ensure Monarch passengers get the support they need.

Nobody should underestimate the size of the challenge, so I ask passengers to be patient and act on the advice given by the CAA.

Global terrorism

European airlines have been struggling recently due to tough competition and Monarch's failure follows the collapse of Air Berlin and Alitalia earlier this year.

Monarch, previously the UK's fifth largest airline, was particularly hampered by a weakened pound driving up dollar-denominated fuel costs and diminishing demand for certain destinations in the wake of global terrorism.

Over recent weeks it had been clear the airline would struggle to retain its Atol licence, which allows it to sell holiday packages. As a result, the CAA became increasingly concerned about its ability to fulfil Monarch's regulatory responsibilities. 

Monarch and its advisers had been locked in talks with a number of airlines, most recently believed to be Norwegian and Wizz, about a deal to keep the airline out of administration.

Prior to its collapse, Monarch employed around 2,100 people and flew 6m passengers each year. Its holiday tour arm had annual volumes of 200,000 per annum.

Read more: Monarch mulls short-haul shake-up and take-off for long-haul ambitions

Statement from Monarch administrators KPMG

“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. 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.

“We understand that this will be a difficult and distressing time for many, and we anticipate a large volume of calls and queries from customers who are affected. We therefore kindly request that passengers who are not scheduled to travel within the next 48 hours to refer to the CAA website (monarch.caa.co.uk) in the first instance for further information. This will allow us to assist the CAA and prioritise to ensure the safe repatriation of all customers located overseas who were scheduled for immediate travel back to the UK.

“We will also be speaking to all of the Group’s employees today, and commencing the process of returning the Group’s leased aircraft fleet to its owners.”