JETS are on standby to bring home 100,000 stranded British holidaymakers if troubled Monarch Airlines goes bust.
The British holiday operator has been locked in survival talks to prevent it collapsing and has been handed a desperate 24-hour extension to its license.
A fleet of 10 jets has now been chartered to rescue the passengers who may be stuck if Britain’s fifth largest airline goes under.
The beleaguered airline has effectively stopped selling tickets by quadrupling fares in the hyper-competitive cheap flight market.
Test bookings made by The Independent found the price of seats on routes such as Gatwick-Malaga, Birmingham-Barcelona and Manchester-Stokholm had jumped from £32 one-way to £132 overnight.
The company had a deadline of midnight on September 30 extended to midnight tonight before its Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (Atol) – allowing it to sell holidays – expires.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said: “We can confirm that Atol protection will remain available for eligible holiday bookings made with Monarch on Sunday.”
This means that holidaymakers can buy Atol-protected trips from Monarch on Sunday, which will cover them from whatever date in the future their trip takes place.
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It is Monarch’s second such temporary extension in two years and follows a spotlight being shone on the carrier’s finances.
A CAA statement said: “The Atol renewal process is ongoing and the CAA will conclude the processing of applications from approximately 1,300 Atol holders in the next 24 hours.
“In certain circumstances this could require a temporary extension to complete this process.
“In line with our usual practice, we will not comment on the specifics of any Atol holder’s application until such time as the process has reached a resolution.
“However, we can confirm that Atol protection will remain available for eligible holiday bookings made with Monarch on Sunday.”
The CAA promised to provide daily updates on the protection available to Monarch customers.
The news came after reports the company was holding emergency talks with regulators to avoid going under.
The airline, whose headquarters are at London Luton Airport, was founded in 1968.
It also operates from four other UK bases including London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds Bradford to more than 40 destinations around Europe and further afield.
The company employs approximately 2,750 predominantly UK based staff, its website states.
UK travel firms selling holidays and flights are required to hold an Atol , which protects customers with pre-booked holidays from being stranded abroad in the event of circumstances such as the company ceasing to trade.
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