THE collapse of Monarch Airlines is without doubt a huge blow not only to the Rock’s tourism but has also dramatically reduced access to a number of cities in the UK.
The company had been responsible for around a third of all flights in and out of Gibraltar offering services to and from Luton, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol.
The company’s demise has also become platform for the Government and the Opposition to lock horns. Immediately after the announcement of Monarch’s failure the Government issued a statement in which it stated that it was “actively engaging with the UK Government in order to identify ways in which it can assist.”
The statement went on to strongly advise all Monarch customers to re-book with other airlines and confirmed that the GHA has made arrangements for any sponsored patients who already have flights booked with Monarch to be rebooked.
A statement followed from the GSD through their spokesman Trevor Hammond regretting that Monarch had ceased trading and accused the Government of offering no assistance to stranded residents and of “washing its hands of those stranded.”
It went on to state: “It is normal practice for a Government to provide assistance in repatriating residents as the UK Government is already in the process of doing for its citizens.
“Government advice issued today is basically to say that they will offer no assistance whatsoever to stranded residents abroad and that they should re-book flights and claim on insurance if they have any.”
A statement from No 6 accused the Opposition of looking to make political capital out of a difficult situation for Monarch passengers and former employees.
The Government said that it stood by its original statement, adding: “Mr Hammond knows, as he is employed in the aviation industry, that the UK Government is providing replacement flights to the UK for all persons booked with Monarch, regardless of whether their journey will end in the UK.
“Therefore, in effect this is the equivalent of a phased shut down of operations that will allow the majority of passengers to complete their holidays and trips without inconvenience.
“It does not equate to a repatriation, which suggests that as in an emergency situation rescue flights are sent to extricate UK nationals from a specific problem area.
“The advice given by passengers from Gibraltar mirrors that given by the Civil Aviation Authority to all passengers. The category of passenger who is ATOL-protected will be covered by the relevant guarantees.
“The most sensible advice to those without ATOL protection is to organise alternative flights with another airline and subsequently contact their credit card or travel insurance company.”