The UK’s “biggest ever peacetime repatriation” is under way after Monarch ceased trading, with 1,800 staff now left without work.
Administrators say 1,858 Monarch staff have been made redundant following the collapse of Britain’s fifth-biggest airline.
Approximately 860,000 passengers have been affected by the carrier’s demise – and 110,000 people currently stranded abroad are being flown home in “the country’s biggest-ever peacetime repatriation”.
Monarch’s collapse has also meant that the future bookings of 750,000 passengers have been cancelled with immediate effect.
Those who have bought flights are being urged not to travel to airports, and to check the Civil Aviation Authority’s website for information.
Dozens of aircraft are being chartered to fly holidaymakers back to the UK – and passengers arriving back in Birmingham from Rome said they were given free food and experienced no delays.
Passengers who had been due to fly have claimed family holidays and other plans had been ruined. Among them were travellers who had previously been affected by Ryanair’s raft of flight cancellations.
They have been told they may be able to claim a refund through their credit and debit card provider.
Staff made redundant on Monday night are also being offered help to ensure pay claims go through.
Approximately 800 people are employed in Monarch’s engineering business, which is not affected by the administration and continues to trade normally.
The airline ceased trading following a sustained period of losses, as well as “mounting cost pressures and increasingly competitive market conditions”, according to Blair Nimmo, a partner at Monarch’s administrator KPMG.
Mr Nimmo said the pound’s slump against the dollar had added to costs including fuel, handling charges and lease payments.
Monarch chief executive Andrew Swaffield set out the reasons behind the failure in a letter to staff he described as “the update I hoped I would never have to write”.
He explained that the airline carried 14% more customers in the past year, but took £100m less in revenue.
Mr Swaffield said 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.
He added: “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.”
A former member of the management team at Monarch – who left the airline last month – told Sky News: “The collapse was inevitable – it was run by great people, but the management was very poor.”
Monarch secured a 24-hour extension to its tour operator’s licence on Saturday night, but it proved to be a temporary stay of execution amid uncertainty over the airline’s finances.
The firm, which has its headquarters at Luton Airport, is the biggest UK airline to ever cease trading.
The Government has warned travellers to expect delays as it works to ensure there are enough flights to return the “huge number” of passengers.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling described the CAA’s repatriation programme as an “unprecedented response to an unprecedented situation”.
He vowed the Government and the CAA will “work around the clock to ensure Monarch passengers get the support they need”.
But Mr Grayling warned: “Nobody should underestimate the size of the challenge, so I ask passengers to be patient and act on the advice given by the CAA.”
Source: sky NEWS