|Founded||5 June 1967|
|Commenced operations||5 April 1968|
|Frequent-flyer program||Vantage Club|
|Headquarters||Luton, United Kingdom|
Monarch Airlines, a trading name of First Aviation Limited, and also known as and trading as Monarch, is a British low-cost airline based at Luton Airport, that operates scheduled flights to destinations in the Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Turkey. The airline's headquarters are at Luton, with other bases at Birmingham, Leeds/Bradford, Gatwick and Manchester. Monarch is the oldest UK airline to have not changed its original name. It has around 3,000 employees.
Monarch Airlines carried 5.7 million passengers during 2015, a 19% decrease compared with 2014. In June 2010, the airline was ranked 58th in the Sunday Times Top Track 100 listing the biggest privately held[a] British companies in terms of their sales. The company holds a United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Type A Operating Licence, permitting it to carry passengers, cargo and mail on aircraft with 20 or more seats.
Monarch Airlines was formed on 5 June 1967 with financial backing from the Swiss Mantegazza family, as a subsidiary of Globus Getaway Holdings. At the time of Monarch's inception, the Mantegazza family were the owners of UK-based tour operator Cosmos Tours.
Monarch began commercial airline operations on 5 April 1968 with a charter flight from Luton to Madrid using a former Caledonian Airways Bristol 175 Britannia 300 turboprop. The airline's initial fleet comprised two Bristol Britannias (both ex-Caledonian Airways).
The airline acquired additional Britannias from the administrators of British Eagle in 1969, its second year of operation. This was the first time the company carried 250,000 passengers within a 12-month period utilising a fleet of six Britannias.
Monarch entered the jet age in 1971 when three Boeing 720Bs joined its fleet. The airline's first commercial jet service took to the air on 13 December 1971. The introduction of the company's first jet aircraft type also coincided with the adoption of a revised livery.
In 1972, the airline carried 500,000 passengers in one year for the first time.
By 1976, Monarch had transitioned to an all-jet fleet following the sale of the airline's last Britannia to Greek cargo charter airline Afrek on 21 May of that year.[b] Two years earlier the airline had retired its last passenger-configured Britannia, which operated the type's final commercial passenger flight in Europe on 9 October 1974. The changeover to an all-jet fleet was brought about as a result of the acquisition of a further two second-hand Boeing 720Bs as well as the addition of a pair of BAC One-Eleven 500s, which had been sourced from British Caledonian and the administrators of the failed Court Line respectively.
At the end of 1980, Monarch Airlines took delivery of its first new jet aircraft, a pair of Boeing 737-200 Advanced, which had been acquired on an operating lease from Bavaria Leasing (at the time a unit of Hapag Lloyd Airlines). One of the newly delivered 737s was stationed at Tegel Airport in then West Berlin (in the days before the German reunification) at the beginning of the 1981 summer season. The Berlin-based aircraft operated short to medium-haul charter flights to the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands under contract to Flug-Union Berlin, at the time one of West Berlin's leading package tour operators. Monarch had taken over Flug-Union Berlin's charter programme from Laker Airways. The addition of the 737s expanded Monarch's fleet to 11 jet aircraft, comprising one Boeing 707-320C, five Boeing 720Bs, three BAC One-Eleven 500s and two Boeing 737-200 Advs.
In 1981, new stations were opened at Gatwick, Glasgow, Manchester and Berlin Tegel. This was the first time Monarch Airlines carried a million passengers in a single year. 1981 was also the year Monarch became the first charter airline to order the Boeing 757-200, a high-capacity, medium-haul single-aisle plane powered by Rolls-Royce RB211-535C engines. Monarch's 757 order represented a major step change for a small airline. Its first 757 was delivered and entered service in the spring of 1983. This coincided with the introduction of an updated livery, the third in the airline's history.
In spring 1985, the CAA awarded Monarch Airlines licences to begin scheduled services to Málaga, Minorca and Tenerife. This enabled the airline to launch its first-ever scheduled service from Luton to Minorca on 5 July 1986, under the brand name Monarch crown service.
In 1986 Monarch's acquired their first Boeing 737-300 aircraft. From November 1988, four of Monarch's 737-300s were leased out to Euroberlin France, a Berlin Tegel-based Franco-German joint venture airline that was 51% owned by Air France and 49% by Lufthansa. Apart from the aircraft itself, Monarch Airlines also provided the flightdeck crew and maintenance support (through sister company Monarch Aircraft Engineering) for this airline. By 1990, seven 737-300s were assigned to the Euroberlin wet lease. On 1 May 1988 Monarch operated the first ETOPs Trans Atlantic operation under CAA regulations. The Boeing 757-200ER G-MONJ operated Luton to Orlando via Gander with 235 passengers the first UK twin jet to ever cross the North Atlantic with passengers. Today it is commonplace on North Atlantic crossings.
1988 was the first time Monarch Airlines carried more than two million passengers in a year.
In 1990, Monarch Airlines introduced the Airbus A300-600R, its first widebodied aircraft type, and opened a new purpose-built headquarters that also housed the airline's own Boeing 757 flight simulator at its Luton base.
During the early 1990s, Monarch Airlines operated several Boeing 767-300ER widebodies on behalf of Alitalia Team, a unit of Italy's flag carrier, under a wet lease arrangement similar to the one Monarch had with Euroberlin France.
In 1993, Monarch Airlines introduced the first Airbus A320 aircraft into its fleet. (The first of the larger Airbus A321s joined Monarch's fleet in 1997.) Airbus A320 family aircraft eventually replaced the airline's Boeing 737-300s.
In 1998, Monarch Airlines leased two McDonnell Douglas MD-11 widebodied aircraft from World Airways for its long-haul operations whilst awaiting the delivery of a pair of new Airbus A330-200 widebodies. Following the A330s arrival in 1999, Monarch returned the MD-11s to World Airways. The new A330 widebodies permitted Monarch to serve long-haul charter destinations with a two class seating configuration, another first for the airline.
Monarch's sole McDonnell Douglas DC-10 was retired from service in 2002 and was donated to Manchester Airport Aviation Viewing Park. In 2002, Monarch also unveiled a brand-new livery the airline's fourth. Also, the company re-branded its Monarch Crown Service scheduled division as Monarch Scheduled. Monarch Scheduled continued to offer a full service product, including free catering, bar service, hot towels, newspapers and in-flight entertainment (IFE).
In November 2005, Monarch opened a base in Málaga. The airline based one Airbus A320 aircraft there. Monarch launched three scheduled services from Málaga, to Aberdeen, Blackpool and Newquay. The Newquay service was discontinued on 30 April 2006. About a year later, scheduled services from Málaga to Blackpool were also dropped due to low demand. On 27 October 2007, flights to Aberdeen were withdrawn as well. This resulted in closure of Monarch's Málaga base.
To operate scheduled services from Manchester, an Airbus A321 was acquired. Monarch became the airport's second-largest passenger airline in 2005 with 1.72m passengers using its services from/to the airport. Monarch's total passenger numbers increased from 4.55m in 2002 to 6.5m in 2008.
In August 2006, Monarch ordered six Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner widebodied jets, primarily for use on long-haul routes. Delivery was planned to start in 2010; however, delays to the 787 project pushed back delivery to 2013, and in September 2011, the airline cancelled the order citing its strategic decision to concentrate on short-/medium-haul operations.
On 27 April 2007, Monarch Airlines started flights to Ibiza partnered with club brand HedKandi, naming the partnership "FlyKandi". One of Monarch's Boeing 757s (G-MOND) received a special FlyKandi livery with billboard FlyKandi titles and a special tail motif. The HedKandi partnership lasted for the 2007 summer season, with flights to Ibiza being sold from four major UK airports. It was then renewed for the 2008 summer season, offering the same services. This time FlyKandi livery was applied to G-MONJ. HedKandi CDs and radio stations were available for purchase and to listen to on board Monarch aircraft.
In 2008, Monarch changed the name of its website from flymonarch.com to monarch.co.uk. It also changed its advertising slogan to "The Low Fare Airline That Cares".
In 2008, Monarch provided the aircraft, an Airbus A321, to launch the ITV2 television programme CelebAir. Celebrities were trained and took on duties performed by airline staff, such as cabin crew. The destinations to which CelebAir flew were mainly Monarch's scheduled destinations, including Málaga, Alicante, Tenerife, Faro, Ibiza, Mahón and Larnaca. These flights carried fare-paying passengers. The programme first aired on 2 September 2008. The programme has now finished with Lisa Maffia winning the series, Amy Lamé finishing second and Chico Slimani finishing third.
After many years of operating profitably, Monarch Group, the parent company of Monarch Airlines and Cosmos Holidays, reported a large pre-tax loss of £32.3m in the financial year ending in 2009. This necessitated a £45m cash injection from the Mantegazzas who have [co-]owned the group since its inception. The Mantegazza's cash injection was accompanied by a change in strategy that saw Monarch Airlines changing its focus from being primarily a charter airline to becoming a predominantly "scheduled leisure airline", with a target of 80% of its business being scheduled (compared with only 20% in 2005). The new strategy has already resulted in introduction of additional scheduled services to new destinations in Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Spain and Portugal, including the launch on 23 May 2011 of a three times weekly scheduled service to the Greek island of Corfu the airline's first scheduled Greek destination from London Luton. France and Italy are expected to join Monarch's scheduled network in 2012.
To increase Monarch's attractiveness as a viable alternative to EasyJet and Ryanair, its main low-cost competitors, all debit card charges were abolished and only a £10 flat rate is applied to credit card transactions. To highlight these differences as additional selling points, Monarch has introduced the advertising slogan Fly Your Way Every Day. together with a new logo incorporating the airline's old capital "M" and crown. Also, a new livery was introduced.
Although Monarch made a £1.4m profit in 2010, it reported a £45m loss in the financial year ending 31 October 2011 as a result of high jet fuel prices against the backdrop of a stagnant economy and political turmoil in the Middle East. Higher fuel prices increased the airline's annual fuel bill by £50m.
Monarch's revised business plan envisages a small loss in the financial year ending in 2012 and a return to profitability in 2013. In a related announcement made on 31 October 2011, Monarch confirmed the closure of its charter base at Dublin Airport.
On 3 November 2011, Monarch received a £75m rescue package for the airline. It was then announced that Monarch were to launch of 14 additional routes serving new destinations in Italy, Croatia and Greece from their bases. The new flights commenced at the start of the 2012 summer season. Monarch also received two Airbus A320 aircraft to support the increased level of activity. The addition of these aircraft also marks the first stage of a medium-term plan to increase the fleet size to 40 aircraft in support of the airline's goal to carry 10 million passengers annually by the time the final stage has been fully implemented. Growing the fleet to enable an increase in passenger numbers will allow the airline to spread its fixed costs over a higher level of output, thus resulting in greater economies of scale.
On 3 May 2012, Monarch announced that they were to open a new base at East Midlands Airport in Autumn 2012, to replace some routes previously flown by Bmibaby, who ceased operations completely on 9 September 2012. On 8 May 2012 the airline announced operations from Leeds/Bradford with 2 new winter destinations, Munich and Grenoble. They also announced plans for a large expansion in summer 2013.  On 10 July 2012, it was announced that Monarch were to launch a new base at Leeds/Bradford with 12 new destinations. The base opened on 22 March 2013. As of mid-2012, Globus Travel's shareholders included Amerald Investments (88%), Atlantic Financial Services (7%) and Abaco Holdings (4%). On 13 December 2012 Monarch announced that they have come on board as a new sponsor for Leeds United AFC, working in partnership with Leeds United to promote Monarch's new base and routes at Leeds Bradford Airport.
On 1 July 2013, Monarch announced an order for a further two Airbus A321s. The aircraft were due to be delivered in April and May 2015, but the order was changed to just 1 A320 which was delivered in April 2015. On 12 December 2013, Monarch announced that Monarch Airlines had returned to profit in year ending October 2013 and announced that passenger numbers were up 9.5% to 7 million and in line to carry more than 10 million by 2016. In the same announcement Monarch confirmed that it plans to order 60 new aircraft in an order worth $6 Billion for delivery up to 2024 and would announce the successful tender in Q1 of 2014 from either Airbus/Boeing and Bombardier.
In July 2014 the airline announced that it had selected Boeing, with the 737MAX, as the preferred bidder for 30 new aircraft. The order was confirmed in October 2014, with deliveries due to take place from Q2 of 2018.
On 14 August 2014, Monarch announced the closure of their East Midlands base.
On 24 October 2014 Monarch Holdings was acquired from the Globus Travel Group by private investment company and turnaround specialist Greybull Capital for a nominal sum just hours before Monarchs licence with the Civil Aviation Authority expired. Greybull were to own 90% of the airline, with the remaining 10% held by the groups pension fund and provide access to £125m of new capital. The strategic review which led to the deal will see Monarch downsize its fleet from 42 to 34 aircraft, renegotiate leases on 10 aircraft and cease long-haul and charter operations from April 2015, converting to a low cost model focusing on short-haul leisure routes. However, the new finance should secure the order for 30 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft signed up to at the 2014 Farnborough Air Show. Following the acquisition, Monarch Airlines ceased long-haul and charter operations by April 2015, converting to a low cost model focusing on short-haul leisure routes.
Following the downsize in operations, Monarch Airlines carried 5.7 million passengers during 2015, a 19% reduction compared with 2014. On 25 September 2016, online rumours surfaced about Monarch Airline's imminent bankruptcy, which the airline has strongly denied. Meanwhile there are ongoing discussions with other possible investors, including the HNA Group, and plans for Greybull Capital to provide Monarch with additional funding.
Operational activities over recent years, broken down between scheduled and charter flights, were:
|Total passengers||Total flights||Load factor||Passenger change YoY||Total passengers||Total flights||Load factor||Passenger change YoY||Total passengers||Total flights||Load factor||Passenger change YoY|
|Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority |
As it positioned itself as a low-cost-carrier, Monarch offers several services to its passengers at an extra charge. This incorporates additional baggage, allocated seats, in-flight catering as well as priority services. Several of these amenities can be booked in advance, at the airport or via the buy-on board service. After the shutdown of long-haul operations, all Monarch aircraft are now equipped with an all-Economy class cabin.
Monarch also publishes in-flight magazine including a travel guide, a map of Monarch's destinations, snacks on board and the shopping available to buy.
|To be replaced by Boeing 737 MAX|
|Boeing 737 MAX 8||30||TBA||Deliveries from Q2 2018 with options for an additional 15 aircraft.|
Monarch previously operated the following aircraft:
|Aircraft||Total||Period of operation|
|BAC One-Eleven 500||3||19741986|
|Boeing 737-300||12||19881997||Replaced by Airbus A320-200s and Airbus A321-200s|
|Boeing 767-300ER||1||20052010||Leased from MyTravel Airways for five years|
|Bristol Britannia 300||8||19671976||One preserved by Duxford Aviation Society at Imperial War Museum Duxford|
|McDonnell Douglas DC-10||1||19962002||Front section at Manchester Airport Viewing Park, Special Crew use|
Media related to Monarch Airlines at Wikimedia Commons