Rival airlines have been accused of bumping up the cost of flights on alternative routes served by collapsed carrier Monarch as a mass repatriation of 110,000 stranded passengers began yesterday.
Passengers with future bookings with Monarch, which fell into the hands of administrators KPMG in the early hours of yesterday morning, have claimed that prices for alternative airlines which could take them on their cancelled journey, had doubled overnight.
Meanwhile, it was claimed that Ryanair, which last week cancelled 18,000 winter flights amid a pilot holidays, is looking to recruit out of work Monarch pilots to fill gaps in its roster.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the UK government worked to begin bringing home passengers yesterday – including a number of Scots – who had already travelled to their holiday destinations with Monarch.
The firm is the first major collapse of a British airline since Scottish carrier Flyglobespan went into administration in 2009, leaving over 1,000 passengers stranded, while the CAA’s action to rescue stranded passengers is Britain’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation. A further three-quarters of a million people hold future bookings with the travel firm.
Many people who had future bookings with the Luton-based carrier said yesterday that their holidays were ruined as alternative routes soared in price. Some passengers took to social media to express their disappointment.
One would-be holidaymaker, @74beijaflor, wrote: “Yeaaaah so Monarch’s gone bust...that was our flight to Lisbon...and alternative flights on easijet [sic] are like £900 in total.”
Monarch, which accounted for around 7.5 per cent of UK package holiday volumes, last year carried 6.3 million passengers to 40 destinations from Gatwick, Luton, Birmingham, Leeds-Bradford and Manchester airports.
Consumer experts said that passengers who had booked package holidays would be covered by ATOL protection, but those who had booked directly with the airline and had paid more than £100 on a debit or credit card would need to try to claim under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act to regain their money. Those who had paid under £100 can use a “chargeback” protection with Visa, Mastercard and American Express.
MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis said: “If you’re not covered by ATOL protection as your flight isn’t a package holiday, and your travel insurance won’t pay out as you don’t have the rare ‘travel abandonment’ cover; there are three further helpful protections to try.”
Monarch’s website said that anyone due to travel home before 15 October could continue their holiday and a suitable alternative flight would be provided.
However, travel experts called for a clarification on accountability when airlines collapse.
Stephanie Corbett, head of travel at comparethemarket.com, said: “Monarch’s collapse highlights two key things. Firstly, for major purchases such as holidays and flights, it’s useful to remember that paying by credit card will allow any costs on a cancelled flight to be reimbursed via Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if the value is in excess of £100. Secondly, it’s clear that there’s a grey area of accountability between insurers and airline when companies collapse.”
Administrator Blair Nimmo, who is based in KPMG’s Glasgow office, said the company, which employs 2,100 people across its airline and tour group, had struggled with mounting costs and competitive market conditions.