U.K. scrambles to help stranded citizens after airline goes bust



HONG KONG (CNNMoney) – Deepening financial problems have forced British airline Monarch to suddenly go out of business, leaving hundreds of thousands of customers in the lurch.

“We’re sorry to announce that Monarch has suspended flights and holidays,” the company tweeted Monday.

All Monarch flights to and from the U.K. have been canceled, said accounting firm KPMG, which has been appointed to manage the airline’s insolvency.

That leaves roughly 110,000 Monarch customers — whom the airline was meant to fly back to the U.K. in the next two weeks — stuck overseas, according to the country’s Civil Aviation Authority. The agency said it’s organizing replacement flights to bring the travelers home.

The aviation authority estimated that around 300,000 future bookings with Monarch have also been canceled. It has set up a special website to help affected travelers at monarch.caa.co.uk.

“Mounting cost pressures and increasingly competitive market conditions in the European short-haul market have contributed to the Monarch Group experiencing a sustained period of trading losses,” said KPMG partner Blair Nimmo.

As well as the airline, Monarch’s tour group business has also gone bust. All future vacations with that business have been canceled.

“We understand that this will be a difficult and distressing time for many,” Nimmo said.

The collapse of Monarch comes after major difficulties at other European carriers.

Air Berlin, Germany’s second biggest airline, filed for bankruptcy in August. And Italy has put its struggling national airline, Alitalia, up for sale.

Ireland’s Ryanair, the biggest airline in Europe, has had to cancel thousands of flights because of a shortage of pilots.

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