Monarch rescue flights ‘to cost £60m’

 In Business
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Media captionNatasha Slessor had worked as cabin crew for Monarch for nearly four years

Flights 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.

Advice to Monarch customers

  • Customers in the UK yet to travel: Don’t go to the airport, the CAA says
  • Customers abroad: Everyone due to fly in the next fortnight will be brought back to the UK at no cost to them. There is no need to cut short a stay. Those with flight-only bookings after 16 October are unlikely to have Atol scheme protection, so will need to make their own arrangements
  • Customers currently overseas should check monarch.caa.co.uk for confirmation of their new flight details – which will be available a minimum of 48 hours in advance of their original departure time
  • All affected customers should keep checking monarch.caa.co.uk for more information
  • The CAA also has a 24-hour helpline: 0300 303 2800 from the UK and Ireland and +44 1753 330330 from overseas

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.”

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Media captionWhat happened when passengers turned up at Manchester airport for their flights?

John Shepherd, from Tamworth, had been due to fly to Cyprus on Tuesday with his 92-year-old father.

He said they had already managed to book flights on another airline – costing a “fair bit of money”, but he added: “I’m worried we’ve lost all the money on the flights.”

Holidaymakers and staff ‘devastated’ by airline collapse

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.

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