Monarch Airlines Collapses; Canceled Flights Leave 110,000 Passengers Stranded

Oct 2, 2017

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Monarch Airlines is now the largest-ever UK airline to collapse, stranding 110,000 passengers around the world. On Monday, Monarch, which is the UK’s longest-established privately owned travel group, entered administration and ceased operations, effective immediately.

“Mounting cost pressures and increasingly competitive market conditions in the European short-haul market have contributed to the Monarch Group experiencing a sustained period of trading losses,” KPMG, the accounting firm handling Monarch, said in a statement.

Monarch has struggled to keep a steady flow of business. A combination of the increased competition from Europe’s low-cost carriers and the weak pound have been noted as causes for its demise. In addition, terror attacks in some of its destinations, such as Tunisia and Egypt, have also factored into the carrier’s downward spiral.

The company entered administration on Monday at 4:00am BST (11:00pm ET on Sunday), a time when it had no airborne aircraft. After that fact, the carrier sent text messages to passengers, informing them that all flights had been cancelled. However, while there weren’t any aircraft in the air, some passengers had already arrived at the airport, waiting for their flights to take off. According to Reuters, the airline has canceled about 750,000 future bookings.

What to Do If Your Travel Was Affected

If you were one of the nearly 900,000 passengers whose travel has been affected by the airline ceasing operations, there’s at least some good news. And, if you’re one of the 110,000 passengers who are stranded around the world, there’s a plan in place to get you home. The UK Civil Aviation Authority launched a program to get stranded travelers home by chartering more than 30 aircraft.

If you were set to fly home before October 15 with Monarch, the new program will bring you home at no extra cost. Travelers should visit the new Monarch Airlines website, which directs to the administration page, informing passengers of the next steps. It’s categorizing passengers into two groups: those who are already abroad and those who have yet to travel out of the UK.

If you’re already abroad and are supposed to return to the UK prior to October 15, 2017, Monarch will get you home. Visit this page and click on the destination from which you’re traveling. It will populate with information on alternative flights in order to get you home. If you’re scheduled to fly back to the UK after October 15, visit the additional information page.

If you have yet to travel out of the UK, visit this page. While your flight won’t be operating after October 2, you might be entitled to a claim for compensation from the ATOL financial protection scheme. If your flight was booked on or before December 14, 2016, your journey is ATOL protected. However, if your trip was booked on December 15 or after, you’re not protected under ATOL. At this point, Monarch is advising that you contact your credit card issuer on how to claim a refund. This incident is a great example of the value in booking travel with a credit card that offers trip delay or cancellation protection.

Bottom Line

Monarch isn’t the only European airline to experience financial stress of this magnitude. In May, Alitalia began its bankruptcy procedures, and in August, Air Berlin announced that it was going bankrupt. Monarch’s dissolving is likely to benefit other carriers, as there’s one less airline in the increasingly competitive space. And the competition hasn’t slowed down since Monarch’s announcement. Wizz Air, the Hungarian low-cost carrier said that it’s offering to fly stranded Monarch passengers home for $159 each.

Prior to its entrance to administration, Monarch employed 2,100 in its companies — between the airline and its vacation packages. Other airlines have already begun stepping up in employing those who lost their jobs. For example, Virgin Atlantic announced that it set up a recruitment fast track for Monarch pilots.

“I am so sorry that thousands now face a canceled holiday or trip, possible delays getting home and huge inconvenience as a result of our failure,” Andrew Swaffield, Monarch’s Chief Executive, said in a message to employees. “I am truly sorry that it has ended like this.”

Featured image by Daniel Leal-Olivas / Getty Images.

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