Monarch – What Went Wrong?

Monarch – once a huge name in the aviation industry – gone.

At Midnight on October 1st, Monarch ceased to hold an ATOL license. With up to 110,000 passengers now stranded abroad, the CAA have put in emergency measures to bring these holiday makers back to the UK such as 10 Qatar A320s from Doha. Alongisde the UK Government, an emergency fleet has been organised.

A Monarch Airbus A320 at Birmingham International

So what went wrong?

The decline of Monarch has been going on for many years now and roots to the simple issue of having too many seats with not enough bums to fill them on shorthaul European flights. When Monarch begun back in 1968, they were exactly what Britain needed – a cheap way of getting some sun. They thrived thanks to good management and a huge market all through the nineties. What Monarch then failed to realise was what the future of European travel looked like. Monarch were still offering an upmarket service with frills such as free newspapers.

Once the budget boom began, Monarch found it hard to compete with the likes of Ryanair and Easyjet who had modern, efficient fleets that made travel that extra bit cheaper.

I flew Monarch in April this year

In recent times Monarch have been hit with a wave of bad luck, too. With increased terrorism in Tunisia and Egypt, Monarch have been unable to operate on some of their most popular summer and winter routes and have been thrown into competing on some of the busiest routes in the industry including London – Spain, Greece and Portugal. In September 2016, the CAA insisted that all flights be ATOL covered. Unlike other carriers, this meant that Monarch had to charge £2.50 and issue an ATOL certificate to all passengers – this only increased insecurity.

Monarch announced a bunch of reforms in December 2016 such as switching to an all Boeing fleet. They ordered 45 brand new 737MAX aircraft which have a list price of £5bn and announced changes to improve onboard service.

Bookings for September 2017 initially looked very promising and Monarch could be seen to be a little more confident heading into the summer season. But as July and August approached, bookings dropped and Monarch were once again looking stranded. Ryanair made the bold call to drop Leeds-Ibiza flights to £40 return – something Monarch couldn’t afford compete with. The market for 2017 summer travel became ruthless and Monarch’s new routes such as Manchester – Stockholm didn’t materialise. Reports state that planes were leaving half full even with a price tag of only £30 each way. Monarch’s losses for the year are currently around £100m, following a 20% fall in sales and increased costs of about £50million.

With talks going on deep into the night on October 1st, flights from Birmingham and Gatwick to Ibiza were both cancelled at last minute. Reports stated that Birmingham was cancelled during boarding. Monarch quadrupled their ticket prices so as not to get any more passengers mixed up in this mess and deter new customers. There was little known until the early hours of the 2nd of October when it was announced that Monarch were no more – they had ceased to trade.


What does the future hold for Monarch?

The immediate future will be challenging as the airline has thousands of passengers still abroad that need to be repatriated. The rescue airline created by the CAA and UK Government will ferry passengers, that are booked to fly with Monarch in the next two weeks to the UK, home. Unfortunately, if you are due to fly back to the UK after this two week period, the Government will not ferry you back for free – you must seek alternative travel as soon as possible.

If you have a flight with Monarch out of the UK, do not go to the airport as all future flights have been cancelled and look into rebooking as soon as possible.

With Monarch gone, competitor airlines will be quick to swoop on those valuable planes and spots that Monarch hold but with the company in administration, it looks like the end of the road for the once big name of aviation – Monarch Airlines.


thelondonspotter was one of the first aviation websites to write an independent article on the collapse of Monarch. Want to read more breaking news as and when it happens? Subscribe Below.