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Monarch Airlines

About Monarch Airlines

Better known simply as Monarch to its many passengers over the years, Monarch Airlines ceased operations in October 2017. The airline operated as a low-cost passenger service and employed in the region of 3,500 people when it was at its height. Both charter and scheduled services were run by the business which had its centre of operations at London Luton Airport. Other hubs for its UK flight operations were Leeds Bradford Airport, London Gatwick Airport, Birmingham International Airport and Manchester Airport. In its time, Monarch Airlines served many different destinations and during its 2017 schedule landed at no less than 43 destination airports across Europe. In 2015, which was a particularly successful year in terms of passenger numbers, the airline transported in excess of 5.7 million passengers. The airline mostly ran its services from a fleet of 35 Airbus A320 and A321 aeroplanes. It had been due to switch to Boeing 737 MAX-8s before it ceased commercial operations, however. The company was founded in 1967 under the directorship of Bill Hodgson and Don Peacock. Both had been directors of another British air operator, British Eagle. Even before the trend for low-cost air travel caught on, Hodgson and Peacock's vision was that European air travel should be affordable to the average British family. During its early days, the company mostly operated its flight services with turboprop aircraft. Its first jet aeroplanes entered service in 1971 when it began using three Boeing 720Bs. Much of the early commercial success of the Monarch Airlines model came about in the 1970s when the trend for British package holidays started to take off.

In the 1980s, Monarch Airlines continued to expand. In 1981, for example, it began to operate from new bases at Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester. Another centre of operations began in the then divided city of Berlin. That year also saw another first for the up-and-coming British airline. It was the first charter operator anywhere in the world to order a 757-200 aircraft from Boeing. By the middle of the decade, Monarch Airlines was operating regular scheduled services to Málaga, Menorca and Tenerife. This meant that the business was now in direct competition with airline companies such as British Airways for the first time and not simply catering for the package tour operator market. From 1988, the airline began operating trans-Atlantic flights from Luton to Orlando. It was the first airline to do so with the Boeing 757-200, a twin-jetted aeroplane.

During the 1990s, Monarch Airlines progressed to using more Airbuses in its fleet. It continued to fly Boeing aircraft, too, including a number of 767-300ERs which it operated on behalf of Alitalia, the Italian national air operator, for a spell. As the vogue for low-cost airlines began to intensify, so Monarch's niche operations came under more competition. Nevertheless, the business continued to open up new routes, such as Luton to Gibraltar in May of 1997. By the time Monarch Airlines had ceased its flying operations, it had grown to become the fifth-largest UK-based air operator.

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