In the biggest peacetime repatriation, around 110,000 passengers will be brought back home, following the collapse of Britain’s Monarch Airlines. One of the oldest UK airlines’ ceased operations on Monday, canceling over 300,000 bookings.
“Monarch customers in the UK: don’t go to the airport. There will be no more Monarch flights,” the airline said on its Twitter on Monday.
The UK aviation regulator has called it “is the biggest ever UK airline failure,” and it is working together with the government to support its customers.
“This is an unprecedented response to an unprecedented situation,” British Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said Monday as cited by British media.
“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,” the minister added.
Monarch which employed about 2,750 predominantly UK-based staff said it would work with the administrators, and the unions BALPA and Unite to help its employees find new jobs as quickly as possible.
Unite accused the government of “sitting on its hands” while Monarch went bust. Potential investors and buyers were deterred by the continuing uncertainty surrounding Brexit and whether British airlines could continue flights around Europe, said the union. Unite represents about 1,800 engineers and cabin crew working for Monarch.
“Monarch’s workforce has worked tirelessly and loyally, with great sacrifice, to try and turn the airline around in the last year,” Oliver Richardson, a Unite national officer said as cited by The Guardian.
Monarch owner, the investment firm Greybull Capital, has apologized for the company’s collapse. Greybull which took control of Monarch in 2014, said it was “deeply saddened” by the airline falling into administration.
“We are very sorry that we have not been able to turn around the Monarch Group, and for all the inconvenience and distress that this administration will cause customers, employees and the many people who are associated with Monarch,” a Greybull spokesman said.
According to him, the airline had been “buffeted by factors outside of its control,” such as terrorism and the collapse of the pound after the Brexit vote.
Monarch reported a loss of £291 million for the year to October 2016, compared with a profit of £27 million for the previous 12 months, after revenues slumped.
Founded in 1968, Monarch was operating from London’s Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds-Bradford airports. The airline carried 6.3 million passengers last year to 40 destinations around the world.