This week has seen the collapse of Monarch Airlines, the UK’s oldest-surviving airline. One result is the country’s largest peacetime repatriation, as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been ushered in to wrestle with the job of bringing home as many as 110,000, otherwise stranded, passengers.
Nomadic Thoughts, like many other UK-based tour operators and travel agents, have been frantically working out how best to amend affected clients’ travel plans. We have been scanning itineraries to see who needs linking up with an alternate aircraft, airline or indeed another holiday destination altogether.
It’s a juggling act that makes you question the very reason you are in this business. Through no fault of their own, fellow travel industry colleagues, passengers and airline staff find themselves exposed. There are for example, a further 300,000 customers facing a total cancellation on their advance travel reservations. It is concerning to say the least, as there are no reschedule plans or take-over bids in the pipeline.
This means the often under-valued ATOL Protection scheme will step into the considerable breach again, as the CAA launches a scheme to charter 34 aircraft, from 16 different airlines, to fly 700 flights over the next fortnight to bring home stranded passengers.
The reality is that Monarch are another victim of recent world events, which continue to impact heavily on not only the UK’s outbound tourism industry, but many a business further afield. Following Air Berlin and Alitalia’s recent failures, who knows where the next airline collapse will be? Strain is evident across the airline sector. For example, the fallout over Ryan Air’s recently published 20,000 flight cancellations will weaken their brand as much as their bottom line.
In Monarch’s case it appears the changing international landscape has taken its toll. Two of their most popular destinations – Egypt and Tunisia – have seen a massive slowdown in traveller numbers due to recent terrorist incidents. Furthermore, tourists turned away from Turkey, and the added post-Brexit pressure of a weakened pound meant that Monarch were paying £50m more a year for fuel and aircraft services, which are traditionally purchased in US$. The delicate balance of planning growth with sustainability was further upset as Monarch was forced to re-calculate their recent order of Boeing 737 Max planes worth US$3bn.
So, while we at Nomadic Thoughts, as ATOL holders, are duty bound to honour all our holiday reservations, either by offering a full refund or an alternative travel plan, we have thankfully been able to contact all our clients directly affected by the failure of Monarch Airlines. We have also been able to offer an immediate solution to all flight cancellations – with no financial loss to any clients.
Stressful times. Our thoughts go out to the 2,750 company employees (including 1,800 engineers and cabin crew). For those still unsure how best to proceed with their own self-arranged Monarch Airlines cancellations please see Nomadic Thoughts Statement with relevant links and contact numbers.