The largest repatriation scheme in British history ended today when the last flight to rescue Monarch holidaymakers touched down in Luton Airport.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority’s two-week flying programme ended at just after 03:30. The flight from Tel Aviv with 122 passengers on board brought to a close the programme that was launched in response to the Monarch Airlines administration.
The final day included 23 flights with seats for 4,500 people from 20 destinations.
The 24/7 CAA operation saw more than 60 aircraft, from 27 global airlines involved in the programme, with support from many government departments and agencies, a wide range of aviation industry operators and businesses at home and abroad. During the operation, almost 85,000 people flew to six airports in the UK, from more than 30 destinations in 14 countries across the Mediterranean and beyond, including Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Sweden and Israel. In total, the operation has flown more than 1.5 million miles.
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the Civil Aviation Authority, said: “This has been a phenomenal challenge and one that has required the cooperation and support of many businesses, government departments and individuals. I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has played their part. Completing this unique two week flying programme has only been possible because of the dedication and commitment of so many people.
“It was a very sad day when Monarch went into administration and our thoughts remain with all the Monarch employees who have lost their jobs. We know that companies across the aviation sector are identifying opportunities for Monarch staff and we will do all that we can to offer support where possible. The UK has a strong and successful aviation industry and the skills offered by Monarch employees are sure to be in demand.
“We’ve operated almost 570 dedicated flights to return passengers to the UK, with 98 per cent of passengers arriving home on the day of their original departure. Like any other airline, we faced operational challenges, including bad weather and air traffic control strikes. Despite this, so much of the feedback we have received from passengers has been very positive. This was not a job that any of us wanted to do but we are pleased to have all played our part in Britain’s largest peacetime repatriation.”
While the main repatriation programme has now ended, the CAA is proactively contacting all 1,000 ATOL protected passengers still abroad in order to arrange alternative flights to get them home when their trip has ended. Our dedicated website ‘monarch.caa.co.uk’ will remain online with additional information for passengers still abroad.
Andrew Haines, continued, “We will continue to support ATOL protected customer yet to return to the UK and have already started to refund ATOL protected passengers who have sadly lost their holiday.”