Troubled airline Monarch has quadrupled the cost of some flights as fears grow over its future, according to reports.
The travel and package holiday operator has put up some of its flight prices from £32 to £132, one report claimed.
It comes after the company was handed a one-day extension to its air travel operator’s licence (ATOL) until the end of today.
But passengers are in limbo about what happens when this deadline passes, with some claiming they have heard nothing from the airline.
The company also did not respond when asked by Mirror Online what passengers who are due to travel from tomorrow onwards should do.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert, said: “Without wanting to scaremonger, quite frankly, be extremely wary of booking a standalone Monarch flight today given the current uncertainty.
“If you book a package holiday today, you will at least have ATOL protection. But if you’re booking a flight only, I’d hold off a day until we know more clearly the future of the company – or book elsewhere.
“If Monarch really is your only option and you must book today, make sure you pay with a credit card, so you at least have section 75 and possibly charge-back protection.”
And, according to MoneySavingExpert.com , the fact Monarch still has an ATOL means you are legally guaranteed a refund if a company collapses – and will be found an alternative flight home if stranded abroad.
According to reports, a fleet of 10 jets has been placed on standby to rescue 100,000 customers who would be stuck overseas if Monarch collapsed.
The company’s woes have been blamed on rising fuel costs, the weak pound and terror fears.
The crisis comes a year after it turned to its owners, private equity firm Greybull, for a £165million rescue package.
It hopes to rescue its future by entering the more lucrative long-haul flight market.
Passenger Lynda Green, 65, from London, told Mail Online : “My main concern is about getting home. We should be flying tomorrow at 9.55pm and we’ve had no contact with Monarch yet.
“I have a flight to Dublin on Friday and I might have to buy an easyJet to Stansted and not Luton, where we need to be.”
Meanwhile the Independent found Monarch had thousands of seats on routes such as Gatwick to Malaga, Birmingham to Barcelona and Manchester to Stockholm on sale for £32 one-way on Saturday.
But the minimum price for any outbound Monarch flight had risen by £100 this morning.
The benchmark Gatwick to Barcelona route is now £132 with Monarch – four times the fare on rivals easyJet, Norwegian and Vueling, the report found.
The low-cost airline and holiday company previously had a deadline of midnight on September 30 before its ATOL expired.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulator 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.
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 will provide a daily update with regard to the protection that is available to Monarch’s customers.”
Monarch, 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.
Monarch said in a statement: “Our flights are operating as scheduled today as we conclude our discussions with the CAA.
“Any changes to the forward schedule will be communicated to all customers.”