It’s the UK's biggest-ever peacetime airlift: after Monarch Airline’s 4am collapse, 110,000 Brits are stranded abroad. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has now mobilised to bring them home.
Essentially, it’s the Dunkirk of package holidays.
It comes after the failed tour operator and airline’s administrators grounded its planes at 4 am on Monday morning. Explaining the decision KPMG, appointed administrator for Monarch, said the airline’s Air Operating Certificate had been suspended as a result of the insolvency proceedings, rendering it unable to fly.
In a statement, Blair Nimmo, partner at KPMG and joint administrator to the companies, explained Monarch’s collapse: “Mounting cost pressures and increasingly competitive market conditions in the European short-haul market have contributed to the Monarch Group experiencing a sustained period of trading losses.”
That’s why, Nimmo said, Monarch’s management appointed KPMG as administrators in the early hours of Monday morning.
Nimmo acknowledged the strange timing but explained that it was a necessary step as the appointment had to be made once all Monarch aircraft were on the ground.
“This only occurs in the early hours of the morning,” he said. “Once the company entered insolvency, the Air Operating Certificate it needs to be able to fly was effectively suspended, which is why all outbound flights were cancelled with immediate effect.
“Our primary focus for the next 48 hours is to work with the Civil Aviation Authority to provide the infrastructure and information needed to help the government and CAA with the safe repatriation of approximately all the 110,000 customers who are currently overseas and due to travel back to the UK within the next two weeks.”
Consumers were still able to buy tickets up until this weekend, despite the airline’s incipient collapse. The Department for Transport (DfT) has come under criticism for not effectively notifying travellers.
In a statement, a DfT spokesperson responded: “This was a decision made by the company and it is the job of directors and their advisers to decide when a business is no longer a going concern … It is the not the role of government to decide on the viability of a business.”
As KPMG begins to untangle the stranded passenger mess, the airline’s administrator will also deal with 2,100 of the Monarch Group’s former employees and oversee the return the process of returning the group’s leased aircraft fleet to its owners.
About Francois Badenhorst
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