More than 110,000 passengers are stranded worldwide (mostly around Europe and the Middle East) after Britain’s Monarch Airlines declared bankruptcy on Monday. Monarch Airlines ceased operations suddenly, immediately halting flights and canceling service. The collapse came with little warning: Monarch employees showed up to work only to be informed that their airline was no longer in operation. Passengers who booked future flights with Monarch Airlines should not head to the airport.
Over the past few weeks, Monarch had been negotiating with the CAA to extend its Air Travel Organizer’s License. On Sunday, after a 24-hour extension, the license expired and Monarch could no longer operate flights.
An estimated 860,000 people have lost future travel bookings because of the airline’s collapse. The government is calling it the “biggest ever U.K. airline failure.”
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it had been asked by the UK government to charter more than 30 aircraft to bring the passengers back to Britain after the airline’s board called in administrators KPMG in the early hours of Monday.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has commissioned special flights to bring stranded Monarch customers back to the UK at no additional cost over the next two weeks. The British transportation secretary called the mission “the biggest ever peacetime repatriation.”
CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said:
“This is the biggest U.K. airline ever to cease trading, so the Government has asked the CAA to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the U.K. at the end of their holiday at no extra cost. We know that Monarch’s decision to stop trading will be very distressing for all of its customers and employees.”
Photo: Monarch Airlines
The CAA will refund flights for those who are protected under an act called the Air Travel Organizer’s License (ATOL). Travelers who are protected — estimated only to be about 50 percent, received an ATOL Certificate when they booked. More information about ATOL is available from the CAA. Those who are not protected can seek a refund through their credit card company.
Monarch is not the only European airline with financial difficulties. Earlier this year, Alitalia went into administration, a European state similar to bankruptcy protection, and Air Berlin puts its assets up for sale.