Travel chief slams Government over cost of Monarch collapse repatriation

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The Government's attempt to recoup some of the £60 million being spent on repatriating Monarch customers from travel firms and credit card companies is "completely unsatisfactory", the head of a major UK travel trade organisation has claimed.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said its members had "no say" in the cost of the operation, which is seeing all passengers - including those whose bookings were not protected through the Atol scheme - being brought home free of charge.

Some 110,000 Monarch customers were abroad when the firm went bust on October 2.

Just 10%-15% are estimated to have booked a trip protected by Atol, which ensures people who booked flights and accommodation together are brought home in the event of a company collapsing.

Industry sources say tour operators with customers booked on Monarch flights are being asked by the Government to pay £250 per repatriated passenger.

Mr Tanzer told Abta's annual convention in Ponta Delgada in the Azores, Portugal, that the situation regarding customers who simply purchased an airline ticket "needs to be addressed".

He said: "There is no repatriation scheme for these customers. Notwithstanding this, the Government decided that they would repatriate everyone, free of charge, and try to recoup as much as it could from Atol holders and credit card companies, who were not consulted, and certainly have had no say in the cost incurred. This is completely unsatisfactory."

Mr Tanzer said the response of the Government has left the industry wondering "what is the point of Atol protection if everyone gets brought home anyway", and warned that it sets a precedent for the next airline failure as "customers will expect the same free repatriation".