LATEST: Administrators KPMG have said 1,858 employees of the collapsed travel firm Monarch have been made redundant.
All Monarch Airlines flights from the UK have been cancelled and will not be rescheduled after the firm was placed into administration, accountants KPMG said on Sunday night.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it had launched a programme to bring 110,000 Monarch customers back to the UK in response to the airline’s collapse, which also leaves 300,000 future bookings cancelled.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the Government had launched “an unprecedented response to an unprecedented situation”, and described the repatriation of 110,000 people as the “biggest ever peacetime repatriation”.
Last week, Monarch was forced to deny “negative speculation” that the firm is in financial trouble, issuing a rebuttal after its Twitter feed was inundated with customers asking if it was “going bust”.
But it signalled it would still make a profit this year despite admitting it was going through a “difficult period” following terrorist atrocities, Brexit and the plunging pound.
The firm has long faced financial difficulties having agreed a rescue deal three years ago that saw pay cuts of up to 30% for staff and hundreds of redundancies.
The CAA described the collapse as the “the biggest ever UK airline failure”, but said more than 30 planes will be chartered to bring those whose flights have been cancelled home within the next fortnight.
It also said holidaymakers abroad do not need to cut short their breaks to return home, and will not incur any extra costs because of the changes.
“We know that Monarch’s decision to stop trading will be very distressing for all of its customers and employees.
“This is the biggest UK airline ever to cease trading, so the Government has asked the CAA to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the UK at the end of their holiday at no extra cost to them.
“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.
“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.
“We urge people affected by the company’s collapse to check our dedicated website monarch.caa.co.uk for advice and information on flights back to the UK. It also gives information to those passengers that have future bookings with Monarch but are yet to leave the UK.”
Thousands of customers are likely to have received a text message at around 4am informing them “all flights have been cancelled”.
The UK’s airline regulator had been expected to announce on Monday whether Monarch would be able to continue selling package holidays after being granted an extension to its licence to sell holidays protected by its professional trade association, Atol.
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.
Just after midnight, it was announced that Monarch would cease operating, with all flights cancelled. Transport Secretary Grayling said:
“This is a hugely distressing situation for British holidaymakers abroad - and my first priority is to help them get back to the UK.
“That is why 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.”
Passengers who face having their holidays cancelled after Monarch Airlines went into administration have described seeing people in “tears” at the airport after it was announced their trips will not be rescheduled.
Alison Young, 21, from Surrey, told HuffPost UK the atmosphere at Gatwick Airport was “very tense”, adding: “A lot of people are either angry or upset.
“We’ve seen a group of young girls in tears because their holiday was cancelled. And another couple were crying because they were due to go on their honeymoon.”
London Luton Airport-based Monarch, was the UK’s fifth-largest airline. Founded in 1968, it has bases in London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds Bradford and employs around 2,750 UK-based staff.
Have you been affected by the Monarch flight cancellations? Get in touch by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us at @HuffPostUK.
I’m a Monarch passenger abroad, what should I do now?
The government has told Monarch customers to continue their holidays as planned and is organising special flights back for passengers who are affected at no cost to them.
At least 48 hours before you are due to return home you should visit the dedicated website monarch.caa.co.uk, call the helpline on 0300 303 2800 if calling from the UK or +44 1753 330330 if calling from overseas to confirm your new flight details.
Repatriation flights are for all passengers who purchased tickets with Monarch irrespective of their nationality.
When will I be able to fly?
You should expect to be flown as close as possible to your planned departure dates, no earlier, and prepare for disruption to journeys.
Some passengers may need to speak with their accommodation provider in case they need to extend their stay.
When should I go to the airport?
You should arrive at the airport more than three hours before your confirmed new flight as they will not be able to take earlier services. Foreign Office staff will be available at affected airports to help any vulnerable British citizens with specific needs.
Any Britons requiring additional consular support should visit gov.uk/world.
Can I check in online?
There will be no online check-in. You will be issued with a new flight and new boarding card and will not be able to check in with your old flight details.
Will I have to pay for the flight?
Once on board the plane, you will be asked to provide details of your original Monarch booking. If you are not Atol (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) protected, this will allow the Government to claim the cost of their replacement flight directly from your credit or debit card company.
You will not be asked to pay for your flight yourself.
Do I have to pay for extra accommodation costs?
Passengers with Atol protection are entitled to reasonable accommodation and subsistence costs if they are delayed by more than four hours.
Those without Atol protection may be able to claim from credit card providers or insurers. Further information will be made available via the website.
The CAA will process your refund as quickly as possible – check the dedicated website for more information.
How do I know if I am Atol protected?
Check if you have received an Atol certificate, or check with your travel agent.
Will I be flown back to my departure airport?
You may be flown back to different UK airports, with coaches available to take you to your destination airport.
I’m a Monarch customer and am due to fly from the UK, what should I do?
Check the dedicated website or contact your travel agent if you booked with one. They will be able to advise on whether you can change your holiday booking or are entitled to a refund or compensation.
If you are not covered by the Atol scheme, you should also contact your credit card company or travel insurer.