Monarch to re-model as a low cost carrier
A staple of the great British summer holiday, Monarch Airlines has this week announced plans to re-model itself from being a major player in the British charter sector to another competitor the booming European low cost market.
Whilst competition is a good thing in an ever more competitive market, Monarch has announced that staff numbers could be reduced by up to one third and its fleet shrunk from the current 42 aircraft to only 30 aircraft.
With the reduction in fleet size also comes a change of aircraft type. By 2018 Monarch plans to be operating a single type fleet consisting of 30 brand new Boeing 737-8 Max aircraft, in a surprising move away from the current predominantly Airbus fleet of A320s, A321s and A330s.
Whilst details are somewhat vague at the moment, Andrew Swaffield, the new Group Chief Executive states, "That review is ongoing and further announcements will be made upon its conclusion or as otherwise appropriate".
Low cost airlines are growing substantially in Europe now, with many full service airlines suffering drastic reductions in profit in recent years. Monarch will have a tough job going up against some of the biggest airlines in Europe, such as Ryanair and easyJet, along with the rapidly expanding Norwegian Air Shuttle, which opened a Gatwick base in 2014.
The change from charter to scheduled-only flying is due to happen in Summer 2015. The vast majority of Monarch's current fleet fly scheduled operations, so this won't actually cause much disruption. However, its long haul charter flights to America and Asia will suffer.
With another low cost carrier on the market, the list of British charter airlines is reducing year on year. It will be interesting to see how the market changes with this significant announcement and if competition will be a good thing for passengers, or another loss to the UK aviation market.