Britain’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation mission has been launched to rescue Monarch’s 110,000 stranded passengers.
The airline ceased trading today, with all future flights cancelled and nearly 2,000 people left without jobs.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling has promised a mass effort will now be executed to bring holidaymakers home, at a cost of £60million.
Monarch customers left stranded without flights talk with officials at Birmingham Airport
Britain’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation mission will be launched to rescue Monarch’s 110,000 stranded passengers
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has chartered 34 planes from 16 different airlines, including EasyJet and Qatar Airlines, with passengers expected back over the next two weeks.
According to the CAA, there are 32,503 passengers in Spain, 9,553 in Portugal, 3,661 in Italy, 2,086 in Croatia and 1,924 in Turkey.
While a further 1,921 are stranded in Cyprus, 1,759 in Gibraltar, 1,131 in Greece, 650 in Israel and 605 in Sweden.
The CAA believes 56,000 travellers will be home by the end of the week.
Monarch, the UK’s fifth biggest airline, went into administration in the early hours of this morning.
Customers were then sent text messages, where they were told their flights had been cancelled.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling has promised a mass effort will now be executed to bring stranded Brits home, at a cost of £60million
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.
‘That is why I have immediately ordered the country’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation to fly about 110,000 passengers who could otherwise have been left stranded abroad.
‘This is an unprecedented response to an unprecedented situation.’
But while the Government focuses on bringing people home, three quarters of a million people could be left out of pocket – due to future bookings with the travel firm.
Administrators KPMG said 1,858 of around 2,100 people employed across Monarch’s airline and tour group had now been made redundant.
Ninety-eight of these were employed by Monarch Travel Group, while 1,760 were employees of Monarch Airlines.
Monarch staff pick up their belongings from the airlines head office in Luton this morning
Two Monarch staff sob at its Luton headquarters as more than 2,100 people lost their jobs today
The remaining employees will help with the administration process, and assist the CAA in bringing holidaymakers abroad back to the UK.
Administrator Blair Nimmo said it had prioritised contacting staff to let them know how they would be affected by the administration.
He said: ‘Regrettably, with the business no longer able to fly, a significant number of redundancies were made.
‘Over the coming days, my team will be doing all it can to assist the employees in submitting claims to the Redundancy Payments Office for monies owed.’
Mr Nimmo said Monarch had struggled with mounting costs and competitive market conditions that saw it suffer a period of sustained losses.
Sobbing Monarch staff who found out they’d lost their jobs by EMAIL box up their belongings and drown their sorrows in airport Wetherspoons bars as airline collapses and cancels 750,000 furious customers’ flights
by Martin Robinson and Amie Gordon
Monarch staff sobbed as they cleared their desks today and drowned their sorrows in airport bars after coming to work only to learn the airline collapsed overnight.
Administrators have confirmed 1,858 workers have been made redundant. The majority of the staff – including some who had been there 38 years – were told in an email.
Workers at its Luton Airport headquarters hugged each other and wiped away tears as they carried their belongings in boxes and bags to their cars.
A tearful Monarch worker hugs a security guard at the Luton headquarters today after clearing her desk. 2,100 staff have lost their jobs and left with their belongings today
Staff were seen leaving the building from a back entrance after clearing out their desks and they drove away from the airport in their vehicles tooting their car horns as they left.
Some defiant workers left a briefing laughing, waving banners and drinking champagne as they decided to celebrate all the years they’d worked for Monarch.
Pubs in Luton offered free food and drink to people left without a job while air crew elsewhere have been drowning their sorrows in a Gatwick Airport Wetherspoon pub since early this morning.
Staff were summoned to the airport to discuss the overnight announcement that the firm would be ceasing trade.
The pub was packed out with Monarch staff who could be seen chatting closely and hugging.
One air hostess, who had worked for the firm for three years, said: ‘I touched down at not long after midnight and checked my emails and there was an email from management.
Some cabin crew smile and has a glass of sparkling wine as they displayed gallows humour today
‘They just said this was something they never had wanted to announce. I was stunned, there was no sign anything like that was coming.
‘I went home and had a short sleep and came back in this morning, there was a Q&A and they told us we can apply for redundancy’.
Holidaymakers John and Zeeta Dowsey, who flew back from Rome, said they were greeted with a smile when they arrived at the airport for their replacement flight.
John said: ‘We realised a couple of days ago that there was an issue and we were monitoring that.
‘The only sad part about it is those people who work for Monarch, they today are in a poor place.
‘It was great to have a British passport and go to a British Embassy and say ‘we are Monarch refugees’, and they could not have been better.’
Monarch Airlines check-in desks stand empty after the airline ceased trading at Birmingham Airport
A locked-up customer service desk at Manchester Airport today as 2,100 people lost their jobs
Sam Booth and Emma Plant said they feared they would be stranded but barely had any delays.
Sam said: ‘They swept in and just sorted everything out, we weren’t delayed at all. (On the flight) we got a muffin, a Qatari-style pasty and a bottle of water.’
At least 300,000 future bookings worth £60million and involving up 750,000 customers have also been axed – leaving many out of pocket and left to pay hiked-up prices from rivals to save their holidays.
Stephen Dodgson, 60, and wife Lin, 50, were turned away from the Monarch check-in desk in the early hours of this morning.
He said: ‘We were standing in the queue at 3.15am this morning you could still go on Monarch and book flights.’
A group of passengers at Gatwick today after arriving to learn that their flight would not take off
Judy Ballard, who was due to fly from Gatwick to Menorca today, said: ‘I saw Monarch were still selling flights yesterday evening, that is just awful behaviour.’
Alan Jee, 42, said their week had been plunged into chaos after flights for 30 of his friends and family – including fiancee Donna Smith – were also affected.
Describing what happened he said: ‘Five minutes before we were due to go on the plane they just put an announcement out saying everything’s been cancelled and if we want to get flights anywhere else we have to pay for them ourselves.
‘My missus just burst straight into tears, and my mother-in-law, and my mum. They (Monarch) are doing absolutely nothing about it whatsoever, they’ve palmed us off.
Builder Alan Jee, 42, from Bournemouth, has been saving ‘for years’ to pay for his £15,000 ‘love island’ wedding with sweetheart Donna Smith, 40 – but their dream is in tatters today
‘No one’s told us anything about it, we’ve tried speaking to Monarch but they’ve gone into liquidation. They can’t get any more flights and we can’t get a hotel out here until this is sorted.’
Mr Jee, who left his home in Christchurch at midnight on Monday, said he was due to be in the air by 6am, with his stag party originally scheduled to take place later in the week.
He said: ‘It’s been an absolute nightmare so far. I’ve got to (keep calm) for the kids. I’ve got another 36 people due to come out this week and I’m not sure if they’re going to get out either.
‘My missus phoned Monarch yesterday. They told us it’s only the package holidays that are going to be cancelled – all our flights will be fine, the rest of our week’s going to be fine.
‘Then five minutes before we were due to board the plane, they’ve just told us ‘No, nothing – everything’s been cancelled’.
‘We’re stuck here now, we can’t find a hotel because everything’s been booked.
‘We are looking to get flights now from anywhere, even if it’s one or two here, four or five on a flight there. But I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think it’s just a joke – an absolute joke.’
Have a good week everyone! Monarch chief sent upbeat email telling staff to ignore speculation over airline’s future just SEVEN DAYS before it went bust leaving them all without jobs
by Jake Wallis Simons
The Monarch Airlines chief executive sent an upbeat email telling staff to ‘have a good week!’ just seven days before it went bust, MailOnline can reveal.
Andrew Swaffield told staff to and ignore speculation over airline’s future as it nosedived towards administration.
But just a week later Monarch collapsed leaving them all without jobs and 110,000 passengers stranded abroad.
Driven: Andrew Swaffield, who was brought in to help rescue Monarch, describes himself as ‘passionate’ about polo and said it consumes him at weekends
In his email, airline boss Swaffield criticised Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary’s remarks about Monarch’s future.
‘Michael O’Leary’s recent press statement that Monarch would not survive the winter has caused much consternation, not least amongst our employees judging by the number of you that have written to me about it.
‘He is clearly trying to manage a crisis of his own making with his pilot shortage and his aggressive attack is irresponsible and unhelpful.
‘Again, my advice is to ignore him.
‘I realise that speculation and rumour is stressful for you. I cannot stop stories appearing in the media, but I will try to keep you up to date as much as I can.
‘These are challenging times, but the best way you can help is – as always – to continue to look after our customers day in day out, to do your job to the best of your abilities and do not believe everything you read in the press.’
He signed off with: ‘Have a good week everyone wherever you are based.’
Polo player: Andrew Swaffield taught himself to play polo and now runs the hugely successful Alcedo team, which won at least two trophies this summer
Meanwhile MailOnline can reveal Swaffield splashed out tens of thousands of pounds a year on a private polo team while the business collapsed.
The aviation chief plays for his hugely successful Alcedo team which was in action just weeks before Monarch went bust.
Experts believe the 50-year-old spends at least £60,000 per season on top flight players and horses. His best player, James Harper, 37, a household name in the polo world, is said to command fees of about £3,000 per game.
Unlike Monarch, Alcedo enjoyed an ‘outstanding season’ this year, according to the prestigious Cowdray Park Polo Club, the ‘home of polo’ where Princes Charles, William and Harry have also played.
But today Monarch bosses were accused of ‘picking the pockets of customers’ because they launched a new sale on Friday despite being on the brink of collapse.
The company’s board knew it was going bust on Saturday night but allowed new bookings until minutes before the company collapsed at 3am this morning.
The Civil Aviation Authority said Monarch had notified the body it was experiencing ‘issues’ four and a half weeks ago.
Chief executive Andrew Haines said: ‘Unfortunately we didn’t get final confirmation until 4am this morning and my understanding is that the board resolution to go into administration didn’t take place until close to midnight on Saturday night’.
An empty check-in desk for Monarch Airlines at Gatwick Airport today as the airline ceased trading at 3am
In a letter to staff today, which he described as ‘the update I hoped I would never have to write’, airline boss Swaffield explained that the firm had failed ‘despite our best efforts’.
Monarch had attempted to ‘pivot our airline from short-haul to long-haul to reduce losses’, he said, but it was unable to find a ‘deliverable offer’ from a buyer for its short-haul services.
Apologising for the ‘huge inconvenience to customers’, Swaffield wrote: ‘We are working with the joint administrators and the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) to do everything we possibly can to help minimise disruption where we can, but are under no illusion as to the problems this will cause.
‘And many suppliers will suffer hugely as a result of our insolvency — for which I am equally sorry.’
Employees, he said, could ‘all hold your heads up high and be proud of what you achieved at Monarch’, adding: ‘I cannot tell you how much I wanted to avoid this outcome and how truly sorry I am.’
Whats the chance of getting a refund?
by James Salmon Transport Editor for the Daily Mail
The Civil Aviation Authority is arranging free flights to the UK over the next two weeks for around 110,000 Monarch customers who are abroad.
But these passengers – as well as around three quarters of a million people who were booked to fly in the future – may also qualify for refunds for accommodation and other expenses.
If your Monarch flight is part of a package holiday booked through a UK travel company, you should have ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) protection.
Monarch passengers arrive back at Birmingham Airport after repatriation flights today
This means you are guaranteed a refund if a company collapses, and you would be found an alternative flight if you are stranded abroad. It should also cover you for other costs including accommodation.
The refund will be organised by the Civil Aviation Authority which issues ATOL certificates. UK travel companies which sell flights and package holidays that involve air travel are required to give customers ATOL protection. If you booked your Monarch flight and then paid for your accommodation separately you will not be ATOL protected.
The CAA estimates that around half Monarch customers who are already abroad or were booked on flights in the future are ATOL protected. Those who do not have ATOL protection should be able to claim against their credit card company under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
This states that if you pay for something – or even part pay – on a credit card and it costs between £100 and £30,000 then the credit card company is jointly liable to pay for flights and other losses such as accommodation and expenses.
Air Travel Organiser’s Licence protection will be guaranteed a refund from Monarch, despite the company collapsing
For flights costing less than £100, or any flights paid using a debit card, there is another potential safety net in the form of the chargeback scheme. In this case, the customer asks the card provider to ask Monarch for their money back because they have not received the service they paid for.
While it is not a legal protection like Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, card companies such Visa, Mastercard and American Express should provide it.
Each provider has a different set of terms so you’ll need to check if you are covered in the first instance.
There is a time limit for when you can make a claim. Typically this is 120 days from the date at which you become aware of a problem and 540 days from when you purchased your travel.
If you paid through PayPal you need to raise your claim within 180 days of the date you paid for item so you should do this straight away. Claims opened after that period may be refused.
Most travel insurance policies do not provide cover if an airline goes bust.