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Monarch Airlines goes bust, spoiling holiday plans for many Britons

Monarch Airlines goes bust, spoiling holiday plans for many Britons
October 3, 2017

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Monarch Airlines collapsed on Monday, causing the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of holidays, after falling victim to intense competition for flights and a weaker pound.

The failure of Monarch, the largest British airline to go bust, will affect nearly 900,000 passengers in total. It marooned more than 100,000 tourists abroad, prompting what was billed as the country’s biggest peacetime repatriation effort.

Its demise added to turbulence in the European airline industry after Air Berlin and Alitalia filed for insolvency this year. Ryanair has also been forced to cancel thousands of flights because of problems finding enough pilots to fly them.

Shares of Monarch rivals, easyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air rose on Monday on the prospect of reduced competition and the chance to acquire some of its assets.

Monarch, based at Luton Airport north of London and in business since 1968, cancelled about 750,000 future bookings and apologised to customers and staff.

“I am so sorry that thousands now face a cancelled holiday or trip, possible delays getting home and huge inconvenience as a result of our failure,” Monarch Chief Executive Andrew Swaffield said in a message to employees after the company went into administration. “I am truly sorry that it has ended like this.”

Nearly 90 percent of Monarch’s 2,100 employees were laid off on Monday, the joint administrators said.

Monarch’s finances deteriorated in 2016, after security concerns deterred travel to Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt and brought increased capacity for routes to Iberia. The decline in the value of the pound has also compounded its problems.

The airline was bailed out by its owner Greybull Capital a year ago.

“Monarch has really been a victim of a price war in the Mediterranean,” Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told Sky News.