Published on Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Travel trade expected to share Monarch repatriation bill

Tour operators and travel agents will be asked to foot some of the estimated £60 million cost of bringing 110,000 Monarch customers back to the UK following the tour operator's collapse.

Credit card companies will also be asked by the Department for Transport to pick up a chunk of the cost of the UK's largest ever peacetime repatriation programme.

So far, the Civil Aviation Authority has brought back almost 12,000 customers and it expects to bring back a further 11,647 on 58 flights today. Its flying programme will continue until October 15.

The CAA said it was 'working round the clock', in conjunction with the government, to deliver the replacement flying programme, which has seen it charter 34 planes to fly passengers back from more than 30 airports across Europe.

A spokesman said it had organised the repatriation of all 110,000 customers abroad at the time of the company's collapse, even though only 5% of them - those who had bought packages - were covered by its ATOL, at the government's request.

The DfT said it was hoping to split the bill with credit card customers and third-party tour operators and travel agents who had bought seats on Monarch to put together their own packages.

"The third-party tour operators are likely to be more specialist companies, and there are possibly some travel agents too who have bought seats on Monarch," said the CAA spokesman.

"It is early days yet and we don't have a breakdown of costs so we don't want to speculate on what commitment will be from the trade.

"All our efforts at the moment are to get customers back to the UK."

A DfT spokesman said: "We don't know yet what percentage of the cost will be shared with others. At the moment we are working to get customers back home."

However, the DfT's intervention in the Monarch collapse has led some industry figures to question the value of ATOL. In a Facebook post, Bedswithease sales director Paul Riches pointed out that if the government is prepared to repatriate for free airline customers without ATOL protection, it begs the question what is the point of ATOL in the first place.

Several others agreed with his social media post, with one saying: "Doesn't seem fare for charter airlines to pay for ATOL cover and low cost airlines customers, if they go under, get repatriated with the money!"

In defence of the ATOL system, the CAA spokesman said there are 300,000 forward bookings with Monarch that are protected by the company's licence.

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  • Why should the tax payer pickup the cost

    Monarch was a private company, went into a market that they did not understand well and took their own risks. Why should the DfT and ultimately the taxpayer pick up the bill for their incompetence. What's the point of having the CAA? Does this mean that if a company is big enough they don't need to be bonded anymore? This will setup precedence and show how bad the competition is for smaller companies or other airlines.

    By Tony Minides, Tuesday, October 3, 2017

  • Value of ATOL Bond

    Why doesn't the size of the bond required, reflect an estimate of the cost of bringing back clients stranded abroad?

    By Brian Rudd, Tuesday, October 3, 2017

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