Since late September there has been concern about the viability and future of Monarch Airlines. Over the weekend of 24-25 September the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was evidently so worried about Monarch’s prospects that it set up a “shadow airline” to mimic the Monarch schedule, with chartered planes deployed across Europe in case the carrier shut down and British holidaymakers needed to be repatriated.
Autumn is an unhappy time to be a short-haul airline, with ferocious competition and weak demand. Monarch’s Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) was due for renewal at one minute to midnight on 30 September. To renew the licence, the CAA must be satisfied with a firm’s assets, its profitability and its prospects. Less than four hours before the existing licence was due to expire, the airline was given until 12 October to satisfy the authority that it is financially sound. The airline says “we have just secured further investments from shareholders and look forward to many more years of flying,” and furthermore that it is “close to announcing the largest investment in its 48-year history”.
But the deadline means another spell of uncertainty for Monarch’s 2,800 staff and hundreds of thousands of passengers with advance bookings.
Many people have contacted the travel desk of The Independent, and these are the key questions:
Q My husband and I are about to fly from Birmingham to Cyprus by Monarch, but we are booked to fly back on 16 October — after the CAA’s deadline. So where does that leave us?
Monarch says it is confident of getting more investment and that the CAA will renew its ATOL. But even if that doesn’t happen, and the airline is grounded, your holiday should continue as normal because the ATOL protection survives even if the airline doesn't. Your hotelier is assured that he or she will be paid. And for the homebound flight: judging from the “shadow airline” set up by the CAA last weekend, in the event that Monarch fails there will be planes in place to get you home. So enjoy your holiday and don’t fret. When an airline fails, the people who are abroad are normally in a happier position than those yet to travel.
Q If I book a flight for January and Monarch go out of business, what then?
Almost all flights from the UK sold by Monarch are covered by ATOL, which means that if the flight does not go ahead, you get your money back. By definition, ATOL survives an airline going bust — indeed the only benefit of an ATOL is when a carrier fails. It mostly covers package holidays, but most Monarch flight-only sales for journeys beginning in the UK are also covered.
Q I have a flight with Monarch to Fuerteventura returning on 18 Oct but did not get ATOL cover as they said I was covered by PayPal. Will I get home?
If you bought your flights with PayPal, paying the airline direct, then the PayPay Buyer Protection scheme should cover you — so long as the booking is less than 180 days ahead; PayPal’s terms insist that you "Open a Dispute” for non-receipt of the purchase within this time.
Q One month ago I booked and paid for two flights to Tenerife in May next year with Monarch. Will I receive any money back if Monarch go bust? I have yet to pay for the hotel which was booked at the same time but it’s “pay on arrival”. However I did contact the hotel through email and said I would be going to Playa las Americas in October this year and could I come round and pay? They said yes. I really don't know what to do with the rumours surrounding Monarch. What would you suggest?
Let’s all hope that Monarch is justified in its optimism. But if anything were to happen to the airline, there would be a scramble for seats on other carriers, which would push up prices. Anyone without a paid-for accommodation booking is able to decide whether or not to pay those higher fares, or opt for a different holiday, or stay at home. So you are in a strong position with a “pay-on-arrival” hotel booking, and I urge you to stay like that. Don't go round and pay, just in case anything changes. While I have some flight-only bookings with Monarch to Barcelona, I will not pay for accommodation until near the time. Just in case.
Q Are you suggesting people don’t book with Monarch?
No, I’m suggesting they do — so long as they are prepared to accept the risk of a trip not going ahead. In order to get bookings back on track, Monarch is cutting prices. Anyone who buys either a package holiday or a flight-only ticket starting in Britain, paid with a credit or debit card, can be certain that they won’t lose out financially because of ATOL protection. Even if the airline fails to make it beyond 12 October, your money is protected.Reuse content