Monarch, the largest ever UK airline to collapse, has ceased trading after losing its licence to sell package holidays in the UK.
As many as 110,000 Monarch customers are currently stranded abroad.
“I am so sorry that thousands now face a cancelled holiday or trip, possible delays getting home and huge inconvenience as a result of our failure,” Monarch’s chief executive Andrew Swaffield told employees in a message.
People who have already arrived at their destination as part of a package holiday will be flown home for free, while those who have not yet travelled are entitled to a refund.
The UK government has asked the Civil Aviation Authority to charter more than 30 aircraft to bring stranded customers back to the UK in what transport secretary Chris Grayling described as the “biggest ever peacetime repatriation”.
Ten Qatar Airways planes already based in Europe, an easyJet airplane and several charter aircraft have already been provided to help in the aftermath of Monarch’s collapse.
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Hello @Monarch in Ibiza now with no updates from the airport supposed to fly in 2 hours what’s going on?
— Chantel lord (@Chantellord) 1 October 2017
The first emergency flight from Ibiza has already landed, the CAA said in a tweet.
— UK CAA (@UK_CAA) 2 October 2017
Where are people stranded?
Holidaymakers currently overseas are in at least 11 countries, including Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece.
Replacement flights are currently scheduled to fly to 33 airports.
However, the process is slow and many passengers have said communication has been lacking.
Mike Olley had been due to fly back to Birmingham from Malaga, in Spain, on Monday.
“We got a text this morning saying that Monarch had gone out of business,” he told the BBC.
I thought it was a prank. Our flight is at 12:15 back home today. We haven’t got any information on our flight yet.
Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air said it was charging Monarch passengers stranded in Tel Aviv £119 for a one way ticket home.
The vast majority of customers due to fly on Monday are expected return for free by the end of the day, according to Monarch.
Why did Monarch collapse?
Monarch employs about 2,100 people and reported a £291m loss last year, compared to a profit of £27m for the previous year, after revenues slumped.
Terrorist attacks that have affected tourism in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia meant that Monarch lost customers who would have otherwise flown to those popular destinations.
The attacks also prompted more airlines to increase their number of flights from the UK to Spain, Monarch’s largest destination, creating more competition.
Monarch has also has faced rising costs, partly because of the weak pound in the aftermath of the EU referendum.
Blair Nimmo, the KMPG partner of the administration, said the company had been making losses for some time, due to overcapacity on the European short haul market, alongside “depressed prices” and increased fuel costs.
Two carriers, Air Berlin and Alitalia also filed for insolvency this year.