Ministers to consider reforms to avoid repeat of Monarch collapse, says Grayling

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Reforms to avoid a repeat of the Monarch collapse will be considered, Chris Grayling has said after confirming around 80,000 of the failed airline's passengers have returned home.

The Transport Secretary said he wants to see if it is possible for airlines to "wind down in an orderly manner" and look after their customers without the need for the Government to step in.

Mr Grayling added he expects a "rigorous inquiry" into Monarch's collapse from the House of Commons Transport Committee, which the Department for Transport will co-operate with.

Chris Grayling
Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling wants to avoid Government intervention in cases similar to Monarch in future (Peter Byrne/PA)

Updating MPs on the largest airline failure in UK history, Mr Grayling said: "As of last night, around 80,000 passengers have returned to the UK - almost three-quarters of the total number abroad at the time of the collapse.

"Obviously it's been a priority to get people back to the UK - our hearts also go out to those people who lost bookings as a result of the collapse.

"But in addition to supporting passengers, we've also been very focused on working to ensure that the almost 2,000 former Monarch employees receive the support they need."

Mr Grayling added the Government will examine any necessary reforms to ensure passengers "do not find themselves in this position again".

He went on: "We need to look at all of the options, not just Atol (Air Travel Organisers' Licensing) but also whether it's possible for airlines to be able to wind down in an orderly manner and look after their customers themselves without the need for the Government to step in.

"We'll be putting a lot of effort into this in the months ahead."

Labour former minister Diana Johnson asked if Mr Grayling would support calls for a probe into Monarch's collapse.

Mr Grayling replied: "I suspect exactly such a probe will happen but I suspect it'll be led by (Labour MP Lilian Greenwood) and her select committee.

"I would expect a rigorous inquiry from the select committee about this and my department and I and the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) will be very happy to co-operate with it."

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said Monarch collapsed because of a "litany of failures" by Government, the regulator, and the company's financial backers and advisers.

Andy McDonald
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said the Government was partly to blame for the collapse of Monarch (Danny Lawson/PA)

He said: "Its demise must also be seen in the context of a ferociously competitive aviation sector adjusting to major over-capacity problems and the loss of services because of terrorism.

"A further backdrop for the industry is the foggy skies of Brexit and the total lack of certainty from this Government for the British aviation industry from March 2019."

He asked why Monarch had not been granted a short-term extension to its Atol licence, as well as Boeing's role in a previous bailout.

"A report in yesterday's Sunday Times suggested that the £165 million rescue package to Monarch last year was largely funded by Boeing, as part of a cut-price deal for an order of 737 aircraft," Mr McDonald said.

"What is the Secretary of State's assessment of the role of Boeing in the financial engineering of Monarch?

"The Prime Minister recently criticised the conduct of Boeing against Bombardier in Belfast, in support of her DUP allies.

"Why is there no criticism of Boeing's role in the loss of 2,000 jobs in Luton?"