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Monarch - The Real Cost

Monarch Airlines

All sorts of people have come up with all sorts of reasons why Monarch failed. Funnily enough, many pundits seem to know exactly what was wrong, after it all went wrong. Why nobody chose to mention any of their brilliant notions at an earlier date, we will never know.

Facts are simple. A Boeing 737-700 (that is, an everyday worker aircraft) costs about $4,000 a flying hour to run. An A380 is a tad over $10,000 an hour. For an everyday worker aircraft, that means about $34.00 (£25.00) per passenger, per hour, to cover fuel, crew wages, airport charges and maintenance. That is before all the head office and management costs come into the equation. So, for a 2 hour flight, that's around £50 a head just to get the backside on seat 26b from A to B. And that assumes you have 120 passengers on board, as well.

Factor in the cut-throat nature of the short haul, low-cost market and it does not take a genius to figure out what was wrong.

There are two issues. The first is to question if the "low cost" model is basically, broken and secondly (and more importantly) to look at the real cost of (any) airline failure.

As to the low-cost model, time for that on another day. Let's look at the real issue.

Monarch has crashed out just before the October half term holiday. Not only that, many people will have been booking their Christmas holiday trips and calling Aunty Flo to say that the gang is all ready to arrive, just a few days before Santa.

Social Media and mainstream media are all about telling you who to go to for advice; how to contact the CAA, your credit card company and so on and so forth. All of which, though helpful, does not solve the real problem : What does the average person do about their half term holiday (or Christmas break)?

You may have been an early booker to, say, Palma - most of you will get your money back in due course but instead of paying, say, £60 each you will now get little change from about £180 and £300 a head on Easyjet, RyanAir have pretty much cancelled everything and British Airways want an eye-watering £832.40 (and there are only a few seats left, even at that price). Your money, for many, will be safe, but that holiday is now, for most, above all reasonable financial means.

The focus has been on how wonderful it is that the CAA have many - not all - people covered and that they are arranging extra flights to bring stranded holiday makers home. Laudable that this is, of course, it does not help the thousands of parents who have to tell the kids that for half term, they will be going no further than the back garden or that Santa will becoming down their chimney and not that of one in a more distant clime.

There will be those that "saved money" by using their debit card rather than using a credit card - no one bothered to tell them that a debit card means no protection, whereas the extra cost of using a credit card, means that their flight would have been protected in some measure (a mis-selling scandal in the making?).

There is an identifiable cost in the Monarch (or indeed, any airline) failure but we may never know the hidden cost for the thousands of people, who can no longer afford that half term or Christmas break.

What can be done? Airlines would resist (understandably) bonding of all non-ATOL tickets but there is no reason why airlines could sell - or be made to offer - scheduled airline failure insurance, before a final flight only or other unprotected booking is made. True, that will not help the "replacement" problem, but it will save a lot of heartache for the many.

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