More than 1800 Monarch staff are without a job as the number of passengers affected by the UK’s biggest ever airline collapse has burgeoned to 860,000.
The shock collapse of the airline and associated companies on Monday left 110,000 passengers overseas and 750,000 looking for refunds for future reservations.
The UK government is arranging charters to ferry the passengers already overseas at the end of their holidays in what has been hailed as the nation’s biggest peacetime repatriation.
It is the biggest ever failure of a UK airline and the government is securing a fleet of more than 30 aircraft to fly to more than 30 airports to bring people home.
The CAA tweeted Tuesday that it had already brought almost 12,000 Monarch customers back to the UK, organised 61 flights and answered 13,000 calls.
The situation for those who have booked and paid for future flights or holidays appears to be a mixed bag.
By law, every UK travel company which sells air holidays and flights is required to hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) intended to protect customers when a company ceases trading.
According to dedicated Monarch website hosted by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, passengers who booked flights directly with First Aviation (trading as Monarch Airlines) before December 14, 2016 and who received an ATOL certificate are covered and will receive refunds.
However, those who booked flights directly with Monarch Airlines from December 15 are not entitled to make a claim with the Civil Aviation Authority.
“You are advised to contact your card issuer, insurer or PayPal for advice on how to claim a refund,’’ the site says.
Customers who booked directly with Monarch Holidays are ATOL protected and website says it is making arrangements for refunds on those bookings “as soon as possible” with an aim of completing the process by year’s end.
Those who booked a flight or holiday with another travel company or through a travel agent are advised to contact them directly.
The airline collapsed under the burden of shrinking profits and a reduced market share as it faced stiff competition from competitors such as Ryanair and easyJet.
Sky News quoted a letter to staff from Monarch chief executive Andrew Swaffield explaining passenger numbers were up 14 per cent in the past year but revenue was down £100m.
Swaffield told Sky the “root cause” of the fall in revenue was terror attacks in Egypt and Tunisia, as well as the “decimation” of the tourist trade in Turkey.
“I am so sorry that thousands now face a cancelled holiday or trip, possible delays getting home and huge inconvenience as a result of our failure,” he said.
An analysis by airline scheduling experts OAG of traffic from the UK to Europe over a five-year period found Monarch’s market share had fallen from 4.6 per cent to 3.7 per cent as airlines such as easyJet, Ryanair and Norwegian grew capacity.
“In the last four years, a mix of terrorist activity, travel bans and consumer confidence impacted Monarch probably harder than any other UK-based airline,’’ OAG’s John Grant said in a blog.
“Some 213,000 seats were no longer offered to Egypt whilst Turkey saw capacity fall by another 100,000 seats.
“Redirecting that capacity to markets such as Spain and Portugal may have been the only option available but those two markets, already well served by market leading low-cost carriers, placed Monarch in a far more competitive market than they probably wanted with yields falling very quickly.”
It has been a bad time for UK travellers with rostering problems at Ryanair also affecting the travel plans of more than 700,000 people.