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Rescue flights organized by the U.K. government following the collapse of Monarch Airlines Ltd. have brought a windfall for 20 carriers led by Qatar Airways and short-notice charter specialist Titan Airways.
A fleet of 34 aircraft has been established by Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority in order to return 110,000 tourists to the country over 14 days, with Qatar Air contributing 10 planes and Titan at least three. All told, the airlift is likely to cost around 60 million pounds ($79 million), according to the regulator.
EasyJet Plc and Thomas Cook Group Plc are also involved, together with carriers as diverse as Aigle Azur of France, Canadian leisure operator Air Transat, Turkey’s Freebird, Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Omni Air International, Latvia’s Smartlynx and El Al and Arkia of Israel, the CAA said. Among the aircraft deployed is a Boeing Co. 747 jumbo from Spain’s Wamos Air.
Travelers don’t need to cut short their vacation, with flights corresponding as closely as possible to advertised timetables. While Britain is bankrolling the repatriation effort, much of the expense will be clawed back from the ATOL protection scheme, a form of industry-funded insurance against holiday-company collapses, and from bank card providers which would otherwise be liable for the cost of replacement flights booked by passengers.
The ad hoc contract brings a much-needed boost for Qatar Air, which has had to ground or redeploy part of its Airbus SE A320 short-haul fleet amid restrictions on flights tied to a Saudi Arabian-led blockade of its home state. British Airways, in which Qatar owns a 20 percent stake, is operating the aircraft, having used nine of the jets in July during a cabin-crew strike strike.
Titan, based at London Stansted airport, is Britain’s biggest emergency charter provider, with at least two planes on standby for deployment within 60 minutes of a request being received. Its contribution to the Monarch relief effort includes a Boeing 767 wide-body jet, as well the single-aisle 737 and 757.
The CAA’s temporary fleet is operating on wet-lease terms, meaning that planes are supplied with crews. The 35 A320-series jets that had been operated by Monarch, Britain’s fifth-biggest scheduled airline by passenger numbers, couldn’t be used because as soon as the Luton, England-based company went into administration the leased planes effectively reverted to their owners.
Flights from more than 30 airports will operate between Oct. 1 and 15, with Alicante on the Costa Blanca the largest focus, with 6,600 stranded passengers, followed by Malaga, Faro in Portugal, Palma de Mallorca and Tenerife. Monarch’s exposure to west Mediterranean markets was partly to blame for its collapse, with prices slumping as capacity poured in after a spate of terrorist attacks in holiday destinations further east.
Monarch’s failure also affects 300,000 people who had booked future travel with the company.
Birmingham airport will be worst hit among Monarch’s five U.K. bases, with the carrier having ranked as its third-biggest operator with 12 percent of traffic, Moody’s Investors Service said in a note Thursday. The defunct carrier accounted for between 4 and 7 percent of passengers at London Gatwick, Luton, Manchester and Leeds Bradford.
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.