The UK recently experienced the largest airline ever to go into administration with the collapse of Monarch Airlines. Monarch, was the fifth largest British airline operating charter and scheduled flights carrying over 5.7 million passengers.
And last week, the failure left 110,000 holidaymakers stranded abroad.
Monarch and its accompanying holidays business went into administration after a long financial battle. Last year, the airline scored a cash injection that kept it in the air and allowed for the funding of growth plans, however the boost wasn’t enough.
KPMG was appointed to oversee the financial brouhaha that saw almost 2000 employees out of work, and the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority describing it as “the biggest ever UK airline failure”.
“All future holidays and flights provided by these companies have been cancelled and are no longer operating,” it said, per The Australian.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority, it had been asked by the government “to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the UK at the end of their holiday at no extra cost to them”.
A few days ago, the CAA confirmed at least 60 per cent of holidaymakers were back in the UK, after it stepped in by leasing and chartering planes from 16 different countries to get travellers home.
Per the BBC, by the time Sunday morning rolled around, more than 350 flights chartered or leased by the CAA had brought Monarch customers back from their destination, with guesses it could cost them as much as £60 million.
So with all these customers left abandoned, how did agents deal with it?
Travel Counsellors Commercial Director, Kirsten Hughes, shared how their UK team pulled together in this chaotic time for travel.
“Here at Travel Counsellors we have spent the last few years studying and learning from industry failures of this nature,” Hughes said.
“We’ve developed our technology so that our global Head Offices, and Travel Counsellors, are equipped with the correct tools, knowledge and support in the event of a failure.
“At 2pm on Sunday 1 October, we made the decision to invoke our emergency crisis plan and by 4pm we had over 30 volunteers in our head office in Manchester.
“We started the process of prepping Travel Counsellors, making and answering hundreds of calls and emails to get ourselves in the strongest possible position.
“We made some commercial decisions early, acknowledging that we wanted customers, wherever possible, to still be able to travel on imminent departures.
“We got the news that Monarch had collapsed just after 4am and our priority was to ensure customers, both abroad and those due to travel, were kept fully informed as the situation developed.
“With almost 2,300 passengers affected, we had many of those rebooked within minutes of the announcement and by 7am, 70 per cent of our bookings were acknowledged, meaning their Personal Travel Counsellor was already dealing with the situation.
“In times of crisis, this business is awesome and it’s when we really come into our own. The value of what our Travel Counsellors do for their customers is never more paramount that in these situations.
“It’s fortunate for Travel Counsellors customers that we have the most comprehensive financial protection in place, however, in the wider industry, more needs to be done to safeguard customers in events like this especially where an airline ceases trading.
“To say I am proud of the Travel Counsellors team is an understatement. I am very grateful that I get to do what I love to do the most, more so that I get to do it every day as a part of such a caring and inspirational group of people.”