On the afternoon of the last Friday in September, I went along to a strange, round 1960s building in London: the headquarters of the Civil Aviation Authority, which regulates all UK airlines.

The reason: travel companies tend to fail on Friday afternoons in September. The bills are coming in, but revenue is not coming in at the same rate. A typical pattern is that they try to get investors, buyers and bankers to come up with some cash, and by teatime on Friday have to throw in the towel.

This year there’s been some added tension, with the precarious talks about the future of Monarch Airlines. The carrier’s finances have been under scrutiny, with the establishment of a “shadow airline” in case emergency repatriation was needed for passengers abroad.

The CAA has plenty of experience in coping with collapses, and from its premises coordinates the rescue efforts — and organises refunds for people with ATOL protection. But for prospective of travellers who have yet to travel, as well as the airline’s hard-working staff, the future is uncertain.

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