The UK Civil Aviation Authority is mounting a huge rescue campaign after UK-based leisure operator Monarch Airlines ceased trading and all bookings were canceled.
The BBC reported that about 110,000 Monarch customers are currently overseas and the government has asked the CAA to charter more than 30 aircraft to bring them home.
A further 300,000 future bookings have been canceled.
The airline had been in last-minute talks with the CAA about renewing its licence to sell package holidays but the negotiations ended with the Monarch board opting to cease trading.
“This is the biggest UK airline ever to cease trading, so the Government has asked the CAA to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the UK at the end of their holiday at no extra cost to them,” CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said in a statement.
“We are putting together, at very short notice and for a period of two weeks, what is effectively one of the UK’s largest airlines to manage this task.
“The scale and challenge of this operation means that some disruption is inevitable. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring everyone home.
“We urge people affected by the company’s collapse to check our dedicated website monarch.caa.co.uk for advice and information on flights back to the UK.
“It also gives information to those passengers that have future bookings with Monarch but are yet to leave the UK.”
“The CAA will be providing regular updates as our flying programme develops.”
Advice to Monarch customers, issued by CAA:
Customers in the UK yet to travel: don’t go to the airport
Customers abroad: everyone due to fly in the next fortnight will be brought back to the UK at no cost to them. There is no need to cut short your stay
All affected customers should check monarch.caa.co.uk for more information
The CAA also has a 24-hour helpline: 0300 303 2800 from the UK and Ireland and +44 1753 330330 from overseas
Last year the airline, which was founded in 1968, carried 6.3 million passengers to 40 destinations from Gatwick, Luton, Birmingham, Leeds-Bradford and Manchester airports.
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