If you've booked a holiday with Monarch sometime in the near future, you're in trouble. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced that the airline has ceased trading, and all 300,000 of its future booking have been cancelled.
Monarch is the fifth biggest airline in the UK, and is the biggest one to collapse. The news was announced at 4am, and passengers were informed of the news with text messages warning them not to go to the airport. More worryingly are the 110,000 Brits stranded abroad by the airlines sudden closure. The government has ordered the CAA to charter 30 planes to fly them back to the UK, in what is being referred to as the UK's "biggest ever peacetime repatriation" by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
In addition to the 2,100 jobs that are now at risk, it's estimated that the 300,000 cancellations could affect up to 750,000 people.
The airline reported a £291 million loss in the 12 months before October 2016, compared to a £27 million profit the year before. It had been in last minute talks with the CAA to renew its licence to sell package holidays, but failed to do so before last night's deadline.
As to why the airline made such a big loss, there are conflicting stories. Blair Nimmo from administrator KPMG told BBC News that the collapse was the result of "depressed prices" in the short-haul market, which coincided with increased fuel costs and handling charges as result of the weak pound. On the other hand Andrew Swaffiled, Monarch chief executive, said that the root cause of the financial woes was the string of terror attacks in Egypt and Tunisia, plus the collapse of the market in Turkey.
He also said that the airline has been carrying 14 per cent more passengers than last year, but for £100 million less revenue.
The CAA has promised that any Britscurrently overseas due to fly home with Monarch will be flown home at no extra cost, so there's no need to cut short their trips. They're being told to check monarch.caa.co.uk to confirm new flight details, which will be available at least 48 hours before their original departure time.
Meanwhile customers in the UK are being told to not go to the airport, and to keep checking the monarch website for more information. There's a 24 hour helpline for anyone who still has concerns: 0300 303 2800 from the UK and Ireland and +44 1753 330330 from overseas
According to the CAA at least two 'rescue' flights from Ibiza have already landed in the UK, and expects everyone originally due back today to be back in the UK before the day is up. It was warned, however, that it is essentially rebuilding one of the UK's biggest airlines from scratch, so there is bound to be some disruption.
As for the people who've had their flights cancelled, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of information. Hopefully that situation will get sorted as the CAA gets more stranded holidaymakers booked onto new return flights. [BBC News]