British airline Monarch has announced plans to become a scheduled carrier, moving away from chartered flights for the first time in 40 years.

Monarch Airlines, which has traditionally provided flights as part of package holidays sold by travel agents, said June 1 that it will reposition itself as a scheduled airline as part of a "significant shift in strategy."

It will now compete directly with established rivals Ryanair and Easyjet, allowing customers to book their flights online at its website, - in a dig at rivals, the airline also announced that it will scrap charges for online debit card bookings, a move welcomed by British consumer affairs group Which?.

The new service will be built around a "build your own class" concept designed to differentiate Monarch from its competitors.

Unlike Ryanair and Easyjet, it will offer all passengers an allocated seat, although extras such as hot meals, seats with extra leg room and an extra baggage allowance, will be charged separately.

Monarch's Conrad Clifford told Bloomberg TV that the service was designed to sit between legacy airlines and budget carriers and was aimed at a niche "for people that want to pay a little bit more and really enjoy service."

The carrier currently serves routes within Europe and further afield, including the Caribbean and Africa, but said that it intended to "extensively expand" its routes and fleet of aircraft.