The government today warned passengers to expect disruption and delay as it works to ensure there are enough flights to return the “huge number” of Monarch passengers.
The Department for Transport described the repatriation efforts as “unprecedented” as it started action to return 110,000 passengers affected by the failure of Monarch.
The response means the government has agreed that passengers will not be charged for repatriation flights.
Work is underway to recoup costs from the Atol scheme and card providers, the DoT said.
The government is working closely with the Civil Aviation Authority to build a temporary airline from scratch that would be one of the UK’s biggest carriers if operating permanently.
The DoT said: “The government’s immediate priority is to return passengers to the UK, but we will give full consideration to how this happened and what can be done to stop it happening again in the future – including through legislation if needed.”
Transport secretary Chris 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 CAA, 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.”
Administrators were appointed to Monarch Airlines and Monarch Travel Group, ceased trading and went into administration in the early hours of this morning.
About 110,000 travellers are currently abroad on trips booked with the group – with no flight home.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office updated its travel advice to 11 countries that were served by Monarch, including Greece, Portugal, Spain and Turkey conforming that the airline and tour operator had entered administration.
“You can find information and advice on flights, accommodation and reimbursement for expenses incurred on the dedicated website or by calling the hotline on 0300 303 2800 (if calling from the UK) or +44 1753 330 330 (if calling from outside the UK),” the FCO said.
Advice is being issued by the government to passengers is:
• Anyone affected should visit the dedicated website monarch.caa.co.uk – the quickest and best way to get information on your new flight – or call the helpline: 0300 303 2800 (UK) or +44 1753 330 330 (overseas)
• Repatriation flights are for all passengers who purchased tickets with Monarch – irrespective of nationality
• Details of all new flights will be available on the dedicated website or through the helpline – passengers should check for new flight details 48 hours before they are due to fly, and the site will be updated frequently
• Passengers should expect to be flown home as close as possible to their planned departure dates and no earlier, and to prepare for disruption to their journeys
• Some passengers may need to extend their stay abroad – and others may be flown back to different UK airports, with coaches available to take them to their destination airport
• Nobody should travel to the airport unless they have a confirmed new flight booking
• Nobody should arrive at the airport until 3 hours before their new flight as they will not be able to travel on an earlier flight
• Foreign Office consular staff will be at affected airports to assist vulnerable British citizens with specific needs, for example urgent medical issues
Passengers with Atol protection will be entitled to “reasonable” accommodation and subsistence costs if they are delayed beyond their original departure date.
Those without Atol protection may be able to claim from card providers or insurers. Further information will be made available via a dedicated website at monarch.caa.co.uk.
People with upcoming trips booked with Monarch should also visit website monarch.caa.co.uk.
Those with Atol protection will receive a full refund or alternative arrangements. Those without may be able to claim through card providers or insurers, the DoT said.
Abta pointed out that Monarch seat only arm Avro resigned from Abta in June and that Somewhwere2stay, trading as Monarch Hotels, was not a member.
Abta said: “We are here to help you to navigate through the process of either continuing with your holiday arrangements, recovering your money, or rebooking your travel arrangements.
“We will need to give you some specific advice depending on the type of booking that you have made. It is very important that you closely follow this advice.”
Cosmos Tours and Archers Tours are not part of the Monarch Travel Group so holidays booked with either company will be unaffected.
Online travel agent On the Beach said it was contacting holidaymakers in resort to assist with their return travel and also those customers booked to fly with Monarch Airlines in the coming weeks and months.
The group announced that it has scheduled airline failure insurance in place which covers the failure of Monarch, including money paid to the carrier and the costs to repatriate customers currently in resort.
On the Beach said: “The board anticipates that there will be a one-off exceptional cash cost associated with helping customers to organise alternative travel arrangements or providing refunds and will update shareholders in due course.
“The group has no exposure to Monarch Holidays bookings as it only offered Monarch Airlines seat-only flight options on its website.
A full year trading update is due to be issued on October 19.
Wizz Air today issued rescue fares for passengers affected by the Monarch collapse.
A special rate of £119 is being offered to Monarch passengers holding bookings on the Luton-Tel Aviv route.
The rescue fare is subject to seat availability and covers travel until December 5.
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