This week Monarch airlines went bust, leaving hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded abroad.

The CAA has been secretly planning for some weeks a repatriation 'airlift' in case the airline folded. Apparently they are chartering 30 or so planes from airlines including Qatar Airways for this.

Since Monarch is now bust, all the Monarch aircraft are sitting idle on the tarmac. Why not use those planes to repatriate people? Surely, it would be a lot cheaper and easier than chartering a whole bunch of other aircraft. They could even use the Monarch crews, who are all now unemployed, after all.

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    $\begingroup$ I suspect this has very little to do with aviation as such: it's a legal/financial issue. With Monarch in administration, who owns those aircraft? If the CAA wants to lease them, who do they talk to? Who would insure the aircraft and the operations? The staff are unemployed (I assume), so would the CAA have to employ them as employees or contractors? What are the payroll, legal and liability issues of doing that? Now, all those things could be solved given enough time, but with thousands of people stranded you need a quick and reliable solution, which is chartering in this case. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Oct 3 '17 at 16:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Pondlife: If Monarch owned the planes, you'd talk to the administrator (KPMG). Legally, they must extract as much value from the remaining assets as possible. If leased, the owners aren't getting any money anymore, and would presumably be happy with a short-term lease. Insurance is not a real problem for a government. $\endgroup$
    – MSalters
    Oct 6 '17 at 7:08

Pondlife pretty much hit the nail on the head.

When a business goes bankrupt or bust, depending on jurisdiction, the assets of the company may not belong to the company anymore, they may belong to creditors. Monarch may not have even owned them in the first place, since some airlines use leases from other airlines or banks to get aircraft.

Even if Monarch did own the aircraft, and they went belly-up meaning the aircraft were basically nobody's, now you have to worry about insurance and liability. The aircraft need to be insured to fly, and there is an assumption of liability if something (like a crash) were to happen. There are logistics like maintenance, repairs, etc. Somebody will have to go through all the aircraft and make sure that they are legal to fly (review logs, maintenance records, etc).

Then you have the crews: they are not employed, and the CAA isn't going to employ a bunch of pilots for a couple of weeks just to run ferry flights. The pilots may demand benefits, etc. It would be difficult or impossible to contract them as private parties (since most insurance companies would not let you do that).

So the easiest option is to let somebody else take care of all that by using charter flights. They have the infrastructure (pilots, planes, fuel contracts, insurance, etc) to get these people out. The CAA just has to call them up and say "we need X number of people picked up from ABC on some-date", and the charter company takes care of it. Of course it is a little more expensive than doing it yourself, but you aren't trying to basically build a short-term airline and then shut it down again.

  • $\begingroup$ Would it be possible that they got them relatively cheap, chartering at the last minute (given they're likely going to be sat around idle if not)? Especially with the Qatar aircraft chartered, which have mostly been doing nothing since the Saudi airspace ban. $\endgroup$
    – gsnedders
    Oct 5 '17 at 10:24
  • $\begingroup$ Unlikely, doing the math... The article linked in the question says it will cost about \$61m GBP or \$80.3m USD to get the approximately 110,000 passengers repatriated. If you work it out, that averages \$730 USD per seat for a one-way flight. Not much of a deal if you ask me. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Oct 5 '17 at 12:37

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