Latest: Nearly 900,000 customers hit by Monarch Airlines collapse

Update - 12.35pm: Around 860,000 customers are affected by Monarch Airlines going into administration, the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said.

This includes 110,000 who are currently abroad and 750,000 with future bookings.

The Luton-based carrier, which was about to mark its 50th anniversary, went into administration early on Monday, triggering uncertainty for customers and a huge effort to get people already on holiday back to the UK.

The CAA said it had been asked by the Government to charter more than 30 aircraft to bring the passengers home, with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling calling it the "biggest peacetime repatriation" effort.

Asked how long the CAA has been planning the operation, chief executive Andrew Haines replied: "We had notification from Monarch four and a half weeks ago that there were issues they were dealing with.

"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."

Most Monarch passengers currently abroad are in "classic holiday resorts" in Spain and Portugal such as the Costa del Sol, the Algarve and the Canary Islands, Mr Haines said.

Around 13,000 passenger per day are being flown home.

Flights will match Monarch's original schedule "as close as possible" although there will be some changes including consolidation of services, Mr Haines said.

"There will undoubtedly be some disruption but we have been able to secure 34 aircraft from 16 different airlines to run a programme," he told reporters.

"Today we have published the flight schedule and we expect to be able to get everybody back today that was due to return today.

"We certainly expect to do that for the next few days."

EasyJet and Qatar Airways are among the airlines providing aircraft.

Mr Haines said "the nature of administration" means Monarch's fleet is not immediately available for use.

The CAA did not approach Ryanair for assistance due to its "well publicised shortage of planes and crews" and due to it not being based in the UK, he added.

Update - 10.35am: Around 410,000 customers are affected by Monarch Airlines going into administration, the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said.

This includes 110,000 who are currently abroad and 300,000 with future bookings.

The Luton-based carrier, which was about to mark its 50th anniversary, went into administration early on Monday, triggering uncertainty for customers and a huge effort to get people already on holiday back to the UK.

The CAA said it had been asked by the British Government to charter more than 30 aircraft to bring the passengers home, with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling calling it the "biggest peacetime repatriation" effort.

Earlier:The UK's biggest peacetime repatriation operation is under way to return 110,000 Monarch Airlines customers after the airline collapsed into administration.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it had been asked by the British Government to charter more than 30 aircraft to bring the passengers back to the UK after the airline's board called in administrators KPMG in the early hours of Monday morning.

The collapse - the largest to hit a UK airline - has left some 300,000 future bookings cancelled and customers have been told to keep away from airports as there will be no more flights.

Passengers are urged to check a dedicated website for advice.

Administrator Blair Nimmo said Monarch, which employs around 2,100 people across its airline and tour group, had struggled with mounting costs and competitive market conditions that saw it suffer a period of sustained losses.

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said the decision to stop trading would be "very distressing for all of its customers and employees".

"We are putting together, at very short notice and for a period of two weeks, what is effectively one of the UK's largest airlines to manage this task," he said.

"The scale and challenge of this operation means that some disruption is inevitable. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring everyone home."

The regulator said all Monarch customers who are abroad and due to return to the UK in the next two weeks will be flown home.

The flights will be at no extra cost to passengers and they do not need to cut short their stay, the CAA said. New flight details will be available a minimum of 48 hours in advance of customers' original departure times.

The Government has warned passengers to expect disruption and delay as it works to ensure there are enough flights to return the "huge number" of passengers.

Commenting on the "extraordinary operation", Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "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. Together with the Civil Aviation Authority, we will work around the clock to ensure Monarch passengers get the support they need.

"Nobody should underestimate the size of the challenge, so I ask passengers to be patient and act on the advice given by the CAA."

The CAA had been expected to announce on Monday whether Monarch would be able to continue selling package holidays.

The low-cost airline and holiday company had a deadline of midnight on September 30 before its Air Travel Organiser's Licence (Atol) expired.

The firm was granted a 24-hour extension until midnight on October 1, but that also passed without any announcement of a renewal.

Mr Nimmo said: "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. This has resulted in management appointing us as administrators in the early hours of this morning."

Customers affected by the company's collapse have been urged to check a dedicated website, [https://monarch.caa.co.uk]monarch.caa.co.uk[/url], for advice and information on flights back to the UK. A 24-hour helpline is also available on 0300 303 2800 in the UK and Ireland, and +44 1753 330330 from overseas.

Monarch, whose headquarters are at London Luton Airport, was founded in 1968.

The group's engineering operation, Monarch Aircraft Engineering, is not in administration and continues to trade normally.

UK travel firms selling holidays and flights are required to hold an Atol, which protects customers with pre-booked holidays from being stranded abroad in the event of circumstances such as the company ceasing to trade.

Mr Nimmo told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the administrators were considering breaking up the company as no buyer has been found to purchase Monarch in its entirety.

He said: "While there have been some expressions of interest, in reality no offers for the business as a whole have been forthcoming, so we now are looking for who might be interested in certain parts of business, whether it be physical assets or whether it be slots, i.e. routes that they currently operate."

On the prospect of job losses, he said that because of the timing of the announcement, staff have not yet been spoken to about their futures.

"We have not spoken to the staff, we have people at all the major sites from KPMG this morning and we are going to... explain to them exactly where we are with them at the moment and where things are going to move going forward, what their rights and statutory rights are in these circumstances. That should become clearer over the next few hours."

Mr Nimmo explained that Monarch had been "significantly loss-making" over the last year and those losses were projected to continue in the year ahead.

In the last year the airline had taken 14% more customers but revenue was £100 million less, while adverse movement of the pound against the dollar had increased costs including fuel, handling charges and lease payments.

He said affected customers currently abroad will "broadly" get home when they were anticipating and "in a similar manner" and urged them to check the website.


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