Monday, October 23, 2017
   
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Monarch rescue flights 'to cost £60m’

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airline-scheduleFlights returning 110,000 holidaymakers from overseas after Monarch's collapse will cost about £60m, according to the UK airline regulator.

 

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has called the flights the UK's biggest repatriation exercise in peacetime.

 

Monarch Airlines ceased trading on Monday and all its future flights and holidays have been 

cancelled.

 

Administrators said 1,858 Monarch workers had lost their jobs on a "very sad and difficult day".

 

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) hopes that about 12,000 customers will be flown home on chartered planes by the end of Monday.

 

The government is set to pick up the tab for the UK's biggest ever airline collapse, but is talking to card companies about sharing some of the cost.

 

Theresa May's official spokesman said the prime minister "feels hugely sorry" for those affected by a "very distressing situation".

 

Monarch - the UK's fifth biggest airline - was placed in administration at 04:00 BST - a time when the airline had no planes in the air.

 

Passengers were then sent text messages informing them flights had been cancelled - but some customers were already at airports.

 

Monarch, which reported a £291m loss last year, had employed about 2,100 people. About 250 staff have been retained to help with repatriation efforts.

 

Terror attacks in Tunisia and Egypt, increased competition, and the weak pound have been blamed for Monarch's demise.

 

Who has been affected?

 

Alan Jee was due to get married in Gran Canaria on Saturday and arrived at Gatwick airport with 30 members of his family.

 

"I have spent £12,000 on my wedding and now I can't even go and get married," he said. "I am gutted, absolutely gutted, and my missus is in tears, an emotional wreck.”

 

What has gone wrong?

 

Monarch reported a loss of £291m for the year to October 2016, compared with a profit of £27m for the previous 12 months, after revenues slumped.

 

It had been in last-ditch talks with the CAA about renewing its licence to sell package holidays, but failed to reach a deal.

 

Blair Nimmo, from administrator KPMG, said its collapse was a result of "depressed prices" in the short-haul travel market, alongside increased fuel costs and handling charges as a result of a weak pound.

 

However, Monarch chief executive Andrew Swaffield said the "root cause" was terrorism in Egypt and Tunisia, as well as the collapse of the market in Turkey.

 

He said it had been carrying 14% more passengers than last year - but for £100m less revenue.

Mr Swaffield said employees could "hold your heads up high and be proud of what you achieved".

 

Monarch's owner, Greybull Capital, had been trying to sell part or all of its short-haul operation so it could focus on more profitable long-haul routes, and said it was "very sorry" it had not been able to turn around its fortunes.

 

BBC Business Editor Simon Jack said Monarch had been looking at potential tie-ups with several interested parties.

 

"Company sources tell me that those talks were derailed by uncertainty surrounding the future regulation of the UK aviation industry thrown up by the Brexit vote," he said.

 

What have the authorities said?

 

The CAA has organised 34 chartered planes from 16 different airlines - EasyJet and Qatar Airways among them - to return passengers to the UK over the next fortnight.

 

About 56,000 Monarch customers are due to be flown back this week, of which more than half are in Spain, according to the CAA.

 

Chief executive Andrew Haines said passengers would not be charged for the repatriation flights, which would match Monarch's original schedule "as closely as possible", adding: "There will undoubtedly be some disruption".

 

He said "the nature of administration" meant Monarch's fleet was not immediately available for use.

 

Mr Grayling said: "This is a hugely distressing situation for British holidaymakers abroad - and my first priority is to help them get back to the UK."

 

The transport secretary said the Department for Work and Pensions would give support to those affected and that airlines had already told him they may seek to employ Monarch staff.

 

EasyJet said it would be "really pleased" to hire former Monarch employees, saying it had 400 cabin crew vacancies at Gatwick Airport and 100 at Luton, as well as job openings for pilots and head office staff.



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