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Monarch boss says airline is 'up for the fight'

Published 12/10/2016

The boss of Monarch says the airline is up for the fight
The boss of Monarch says the airline is up for the fight

The boss of Monarch has insisted the airline is "up for the fight" after securing a cash injection just hours before its operating licence was due to expire.

Andrew Swaffield, chief executive of Monarch Group, said its holiday bookings suffered a "double digit decline" amid speculation that the company was in financial difficulty.

But he insisted that people could "bet on our future" after the firm's Atol licence was renewed following £ 165 million of fresh funding from its owner, Greybull Capital.

The group has struggled since Greybull acquired a controlling stake in Monarch in 2014.

In a passionate appearance at the annual convention of travel organisation Abta in Abu Dhabi, Mr Swaffield said: " I'm under no illusions. It's a very competitive market out there.

"Running an airline is not for the faint heart and running one in Europe, competing with some of the biggest low-cost carriers in the world, is not easy.

"But we are up for the fight and I think that we have proven since 2014 and again recently that we don't lie down easily.

"I would say you can bet on our future."

Mr Swaffield claimed that recent uncertainty about the company was "clearly unwelcome, but not hugely damaging".

Asked about the impact on holiday bookings, he told reporters: "We were in double-digit increases over the last year.

"That reversed for a couple of weeks. We almost experienced the opposite of that, double-digit decline.

"I have to say that today's bookings have actually gone back to the level of prior two weeks ago, so I'm hoping that this re-licencing and the end of this uncertainty has done the trick in terms of customer confidence.

"We've had a lot of messages and travel agents saying as soon as you announced that your Atol has been renewed we will book with you."

He added: "Over the course of the next few days and weeks we will hope that that will go back to normal."

Speculation about the future of Monarch began around September 25 following reports that the Civil Aviation Authority was positioning flights to repatriate the company's customers if that became necessary.

But Mr Swaffield refused to criticise the regulator.

He said: "My relationship with the CAA is a very important. Monarch has enjoyed a great relationship with the CAA for its entire history and it intends to continue doing so.

"The events of the last two weeks have been difficult for us, but at the end of the day, I have to step back and say the regulator has its job to do.

"It has tried to do that job as it sees fit. It's not for me to second guess it or to criticise it."

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