Monarch chief quits Abu Dhabi convention as travel firm's licence deadline looms


The boss of Monarch has pulled out of a public speaking engagement just one day before the travel firm's operating licence is due to expire.

Andrew Swaffield, chief executive of Monarch Group, was scheduled to talk about the impact of Brexit at UK travel trade association Abta's annual convention on Tuesday.

But the event's host, ITV broadcaster Chris Ship, told the audience at the Yas Viceroy hotel in Abu Dhabi that Mr Swaffield could not attend as he has had "a very busy couple of weeks".

Last month Monarch was forced to deny "negative speculation" that it is in financial trouble.

On September 30, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) granted an extension on the firm's Atol licence until 11.59pm on Wednesday.

That announcement was made just hours before the licence was due to expire. No further updates have since been issued.

A spokesman for Monarch said Mr Swaffield missed the event in the Middle East as he had "business to attend to in the UK".

Following the extension of the Atol licence, Monarch said it had received "significant further investment" from shareholders and was "close to announcing the largest investment in its 48-year history".

The Atol scheme compensates travellers in full and ensures they are not stranded if a holiday company collapses.

Monarch will be unable to sell package holidays from Thursday unless its licence is extended again or renewed.

Holidaymakers currently abroad or due to travel after that date would still be protected as the scheme is dependent on when a trip is booked rather than when it takes place.

The CAA said there are no set criteria for approving Atol licence applications, but the process involves assessing a company's finances, business model, corporate governance and group structure.

The potential impact on consumers of an applicant going bust is also taken into account when extending a licence.