Monarch failure a ‘wake-up call’ for Irish travel industry

Travel agents call for stricter regulation in wake of airline collapse

Two grounded Monarch aircraft at Luton airport after the airline ceased trading. Photograph: Mary Turner/Reuters

Two grounded Monarch aircraft at Luton airport after the airline ceased trading. Photograph: Mary Turner/Reuters

 

The failure of British airline Monarch should serve as a wake-up call on those regulating the Irish travel industry, a leading figure in the sector has warned.

Administrators Blair Nimmo, Jim Tucker and Mike Pink, partners with accountants KPMG in London, took over Monarch, which collapsed on Monday leaving a reported 110,000 passengers stranded.

While its failure is thought to have affected few if any Irish people, Pat Dawson, chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents’ Association, argued that it highlighted the need for stricter regulation and bonding of airlines.

“We keep saying that airlines should be bonded in the same way as travel agents and we have raised this with the Commission for Aviation Regulation and will be raising it with them again in coming weeks,” he said. “This should be a wake-up call.”

Travel agents and tour operators pay a bond to cover the cost of compensating holidaymakers should one of their businesses fail. They are currently consulting with the commission on proposals relating to this.

Mr Dawson pointed out that many airlines now provide package holidays through their websites, but are not regulated in the same way as his industry.

His association has highlighted this to the commission, which oversees the travel sector in Ireland.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority is chartering craft to fly 110,000 Monarch customers to Britain. A further 300,000 had flights which they booked cancelled.

KPMG estimates that 90 per cent of those affected are from Britain, while 9 per cent are from elsewhere in the EU, mostly Spain and Portugal, the countries served most frequently be Monarch. The remaining 1 per cent are from outside the EU.

Few Irish travellers are thought to be hit as local airlines and travel agents served most of the destinations offered by Monarch. As a result, holidaymakers from here had little reason to use the British carrier.

The commission said on Monday that as far as it was aware, Monarch had no flights scheduled to depart from any airports in the Republic.

Industry sources suggested Monarch’s failure would benefit Ryanair’s British business and also provide the Irish carrier with the opportunity to recruit more pilots.

Ryanair acknowledged recently that it was having difficulty recruiting pilots to fly from a number of bases, including London Stansted.

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