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Monarch secures £165 million investment lifeline

Monarch has announced a £165 million investment from its majority shareholder Greybull Capital.

The biggest investment in the airline’s 48 year history comes on the day the carrier’s temporarily extended Atol licence was due to expire.

Monarch announced it has now successfully renewed its Atol, securing its future.

The airline added it will start to take delivery of new Boeing 737 aircraft from 2018. A deal for new aircraft was first announced in October 2014 and the airline will take delivery of 30 with an option for 15 more.

The airline said “the arrival of these state-of-the-art, fuel efficient aircraft in less than two years’ will enable Monarch to continue to provide passengers with a best in class inflight experience and allow the company to enjoy significant operational cost savings”.

Andrew Swaffield, chief executive officer of The Monarch Group, said: “It is testament to the extensive effort by all parties, over the past weeks and months, that we are able to announce the largest investment in our 48-year history, as well as the renewal of our Atol licences. 

“I’d like to thank the CAA, our shareholders, partners, loyal customers and the team at Monarch for helping us to achieve this successful outcome. We are now firmly focused on the future as a stronger Monarch.”

Seabury Group LLC and Seabury Securities (UK) Ltd. served as financial advisor with respect to the recapitalisation. 

Swaffield had been due to speak at this week’s Abta Travel Convention in Aby Dhabi on Tuesday but remained in the UK as negotiations continued. However, along with the announcement of the investment it was confirmed he is flying out to the Middle East and will appear on stage later today.

A CAA spokesperson said: “The CAA has renewed Monarch’s Atol licences until the end of September 2017 following confirmation that all licence requirements have been met.

“Monarch’s licences permit them to sell Atol protected holidays until 30 September 2017, after which they will be required to obtain a new licence in line with the annual process for all Atol protected companies.

“The CAA advises consumers to book Atol protected air holidays to ensure they are protected in the event that their travel company stops trading. In these instances, Atol protected consumers will be brought home if they are already abroad or receive a refund if yet to

"Consumers should ensure they receive an Atol certificate which confirms their protection, as soon as they pay any money towards their Atol protected holiday.” 

After three weeks of drama, Monarch lives to fly another day. How long the holiday airline retains its independence, however, remains open to question. This morning's bailout - there is no detail on what form the extra £165m from owners Greybull Capital will take - is enough to satisfy the Civil Aviation Authority, but will not remove doubts about its long-term prospects.

The airline's strength in flights to the western Mediterranean, Egypt and North Africa has become its Achilles' heel as terror attacks have dented demand to those destinations.

On top of those short-term trading challenges, Monarch remains caught between the big low-cost airlines EasyJet and Ryanair, and the in-house airlines owned by the big tour operators including Tui and Thomas Cook.
Securing the company's future will require to find a profitable niche that it can defend from both those types of voracious competitors. The alternative may be a merger with a rival.

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