Sunday, 1 October 2017

CAA charter Qatar & other aircraft to rescue Monarch passengers should last ditch talks fail

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority is in the process of arranging repatriation flights for thousands of Monarch passengers should the airlines holiday arm not receive its new ATOL licence.  The company was given a one-day extension on Saturday night of its existing licence as it continues emergency talks with the regulator.

There is great concern that the UK's fifth largest airline may not survive the coming week should the CAA refuse the application.  It is believed that the company would be left with little option other than to call in the administrators on Monday afternoon for its package holiday arm if left without a licence which could stand up to 100,000 holidaymakers overseas.

“Our flights are operating as normal, carrying Monarch customers as scheduled. Our ATOL licence – for packaged holidays – is with the regulator. Flight only bookings do not require an ATOL licence, in line with other airlines,” a Monarch spokesman said.

The package holiday side of Monarch - the part that requires the ATOL licence amounts to just over 5%percent of Monarchs revenue, however, the stability of the airline would be in doubt following such negative publicity of a subsidiary company going bust.  It has already been a tough trading year for the group, increased competition from low-cost airlines,  terrorist attacks and security concerns in for previously big high revenue destinations such as Tunisia and Turkey have had a detrimental effect on the airline. In August the company reported a yearly loss of £219m (up to Oct2016), down from a profit of £26.9m in 2015. This year the losses have also been as large if not far greater than the last trading period.

The Civil Aviation Authority has, we're being told, chartered a number of aircraft to operate repatriation flights. Two Qatar Airways aircraft are apparently waiting at London's Stansted airport by request, ready to fly with just two hours notice. According to information received, Qatar also has a further seven aircraft on standby in Doha, ready to fly as soon as told to do so by the CAA.

A number of other charter and wet lease specialist operators have also been contacted and have made ready aircraft to help in returning Monarch Holidays passengers back to the UK.

“The CAA will provide a daily update with regard to the protection that is available to Monarch’s customers,” a CAA spokesperson advised.

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