Monarch ‘on track’ as chief executive departs

Monarch Group has insisted it is on track with plans to develop its scheduled airline and boost profits at Cosmos as it announced the departure of group chief executive Conrad Clifford.

Monarch Group chairman Iain Rawlinson described the sudden departure of Clifford, who will leave the business within weeks, as amicable. Clifford joined Monarch Group from Emirates in September 2010, having previously run Virgin Nigeria Airways and worked at Menzies Aviation Group and Cathay Pacific.

Rawlinson said the process of recruiting a new chief executive was “well advanced” and an announcement should be expected in the second quarter of Monarch’s financial year, “if not before”.

Rawlinson will assume responsibility for the group while a successor is found, a role he has held previously since joining Monarch in 2009.

Monarch announced a £75 million refinancing deal in November 2011 and revealed plans to develop its scheduled airline and expand its fleet and route network. Last June it unveiled plans to reduce charter flying to just 20% of its business this summer. Rawlinson said: “We are not under any illusions about the year ahead, which we think will be tough. Market conditions are challenging.

“The shareholders have backed our plan for developing the airline and building profits at Cosmos. The first three months [since November] have been in line with the plan.

“The market has been slow to get going, but we are seeing satisfactory passenger numbers and yield, and strong load factors.

“At Cosmos we saw some weakening in the early weeks of January, but the company has outperformed the market for packages and we have seen some improvement in the last 10 days.”

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