BCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 14 Posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 18985 times:
Reading other threads about airlines now going under or on the brink of collapse, and thinking about many airlines that are confined to the archives of UK Civil Aviation, one name that I constantly thought as a survivor was Monarch Airlines (ZB/MON).
A firm favourite of mine, I did some research and found that tomorrow – 5 April – will be the 40th anniversary of their inaugural flight on 5 April 1968 when their Britannia flew LTN-MAD. I thought a thread might celebrate this occasion as well as try to establish why the airline is the only survivor among UK’s prominent airlines of the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s that still uses its original name. Furthermore, it also has the distinction of being under the same ownership and management since its initiation.
Another fact that surprised me is that they are the third largest carrier at LGW with 4% of the total slots, surpassed only by BA, U2/GB and BE, and also the third largest carrier at MAN with 5.5% of total slots, surpassed only by BE and BD. I have been unable to obtain figures for BHM where I believe they also have a significant presence. They currently have a fleet of 32 aircraft, with orders for 6 787-8 (plus options for a further 8) and a further A321 due to join the fleet this summer, and fly over six million people to more than 100 destinations worldwide.
Much of their success must be because they were quick to respond to changes in the market. They were quick to respond when UK charter airlines started ordering brand new aircraft direct from the manufacturers (I believe they were one of the launch customers for the 757) rather than fuel-thirsty third hand aircraft that were characteristic of UK charter airlines of the 70s. Although not tied to any major tour operator (but owned by the Swiss-Italian Mantegassa family who owns Globus who in turn owns Cosmos), they started as a charter airline and were again quick to respond to market changes when people preferred to organise their own holidays by introducing Monarch Crown Service. They were one of the first airlines who introduced a Premium Class on charter flights. They responded quickly when the market preferred the low-cost module (Monarch Crown Service becoming Monarch Scheduled). They were the second UK airline to order the 787. Now they are planning to launch ‘lower cost’ transatlantic schedules when the 787s arrive, where so far Zoom is the only competitor. They also have Engineering and Technical subsidiaries that not only cater for all the airlines requirements but also those of many well-known airlines round the world.
Put briefly, ZB is where bmi should be, and furthermore they are profitable with a solid business plan for the future. And this is despite the facts that they do not, and never have, operated to/from the Holy Grail of airports known as LHR, and their fleet is relatively old with an average age of 12.8 years.
IIRC there was a recent rumour that U2 was after ZB but this proved false, particularly when the business press pointed out that ZB’s billionaire owner could afford to buy U2 outright without having to raise funds in the market.
Strangely enough, apart from a certain a.net member who misses their Crown Service with all its ‘freebies’, they are rarely a victim of attack on this website.
So what do you think has also contributed to ZB’s success?
Rdwootty From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2005, 907 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 18942 times:
I think they have a good style for the Scheduled flights. If you want to pay for legroom seats then you can, if you want a good hot meal you can buy one, if you want not to pay then you will still not have to run across the taxiway to get a seat.The crews all seem happy and this means a good flight.
ClipperBerlin From Germany, joined Feb 2008, 91 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 18893 times:
I haven´t flown Monarch once. But still I have some great memories of them. When I worked as an intern at TXL back in 1993 (?) I believe it was a Monarch B757 that all of a sudden literally was face-to-face with me. I believe it was a charter from BHX. That was my first encounter with a B757 ever. The plane itself is/was so pretty and seeing the old Monarch livery right from the apron was the icing on the cake. I really hope to get the chance flying with them one day.
BCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 14
Reply 9, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 18819 times:
Quoting Trident3 (Reply 2): No thread about Monarch can go by without mention of their wonderful Boeing 720s
Don't please! I vaguely remember a MON flight on a 720B that I took in the early 1980s (or 1979?) from LTN to St Lucia. It was a long-haul flight, operated by an aircraft that was configured for a short-haul charter and absolute agony. To make matters worse, we had to make a refuelling stop at Shannon and Gandar. The flight was IIRC over 12.5 hours from pushback at LTN to landing at St Lucia, and there was no IFE (a novelty in those days).
On the positive side: the cost of the holiday (flight, transfers and hotel) was a fraction of the fare alone on BA and others, so this enabled me to go to the Caribbean on the cheap; the cabin service from the smiling and friendly Monarch crew was faultless, and plenty of food and drinks were served.
MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
YVRLTN From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 2854 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 18665 times:
Thanks BCAL for this thread - my third ever flight was on a ZB 752 (MONB I think) in December 1990 STN - BGR - BGI. Probably was almost as horrific as your 720 experience, but didnt bother me as a kid then and I remember the service to be fantastic. I grew up at LTN and remember the 733's too, they had quite a few, one ended up with U2 funnily enough. Unfortunately I dont remember the Britannia's, 720's, 111's or 732's. ZB are also noticeable as the only long running UK operator of the A300, which were also involved in the start up of the ill fated Compass Airlines of Australia around 1992. They operated 8x 733's for Euroberlin in the early 90's and operated flights to MIA from 1988 and to NY and BOS in 1990.
Heres a summary of the early years from that great book (British Independent Airlines 1946-1976)...
For the summer of 1968, ZB acquired two former Caledonian Britannia 312's for inclusive tour flights on behalf of Cosmos Tours from LTN to many European destinations including BCN, BSL, Gerona, IBZ, MAD, PMI, Rimini & VLC. In addition they undertook ad hoc charters including the occasional foray across the Atlantic to the US and Canada, and for the MOD carrying troops and their famlies from several British airports including BHX, LTN & MME to Aden, Gutersloh and Wildenrath. ZB's two founding CEO's were former directors of British Eagle and when the latter folded at the end of 1968, many of the staff moved to ZB along with several of their Britannia's, which totalled 6 by the summer of '69. The majority of work was still IT work from LTN, but they did far more ad hoc work, particularly for the MOD including a regular freight service to PER, formerly operated by Eagle, and as a result became familiar visitors at Brize Norton and Lyneham. ZB had 8 Britannia's for the summer of '70 and started flights out of MAN for Clarksons to Beauvais and RTM and flights from LTN expanded to include ATH, BCN, BSL, FAO, GOA, IBZ, MAD, Mahon, Malaga, Milan, PMI, Rimini, Split, TFS, TUN, VLC & VCE. 1971 was much the same, other than ZB started evaluating jet aircraft., which saw the arrival of 3 former NW 720B's, the first of arrived in LTN modified with extra emergency exits and 170 seats on Nov 28 1971 and flew its first revenue service on Dec 13. The 720B's were soon also operating some flights from BHX to various destinations, mainly PMI, as well as mainly high density routes from LTN, such as ALC, Gerona, IBZ & PMI and longer distance routes such as the Canary Isles and Greece. This led to the retiremement of the Britannia's in regular service by May '72, but the last one soldiered on until March '75 operating ad hoc freight & pax charters, still mostly for the MOD. Airline Engineering had been set up at this time to look after the mx of Britannia's and they also looked after other airlines such as African Safari, CU, Int'l Aviation Services and several others. During 1973 several of the ZB 720B's were operated on BOAC services from LHR due to their shortage of equipment. In March '74 a 4th 720B was leased from Maersk and operated a weekly Friday transat flights from BHX to YYZ & YVR via Gander. This aircraft also operated flights for IA from LHR to the Mid East, but this was later taken over by BD.
In 1975 ZB commenced flights from BRS for Cosmos, but as the 720B was too large for the runway, the decision was made to acquire BAC 1-11's. The first of two aircraft arrived at LTN in Feb '75 and shared the flying with the 720B's ex LTN and BHX, as well as the new operations ex BRS and also EMA, the first flight from BRS being 17 May 1975 with a 1-11 and from EMA on the same day with a 720B. Meanwhile the final Britannia, a dedicated freighter, was retired in Feb '76, though ZB's association with the Britannia continued through Airline Engineering, including the overhaul of the disposed RAF fleet for new owners, which included Aer Turas and Gemini Air Transport of Ghana. In November '75, 2 720B's were leased to GA for the first time for hadj flights and the Maersk machine was returned the following month. A 3rd 1-11 was leased from BCal to replace this loss of capacity, and operated its flirst flight LTN to VIE on Dec 11 1975. For the summer season of '76, ZB had 3x 1-11's (all 500 srs) and 3x 720B's. 1976 saw a reduction of flights from EMA, but the addition of LGW to LIS and Rome. LTN services had expanded to include ALC, AMS, ATH, BSL, Bologna, Catania, Constanta, FAO, GOA, Gerona, HEL, Heraklion, IBZ, Kerkyron, Las Palmas, LIS, MAD, Malaga, Milan, Minorca, MUC, NAP, OSL, PMO, PMI, Pula, Rhodes, Rimini, Rome, Santiago, St Lucia (via Santa Maria), STR, Tarbes, TFS, Treviso, TUN, VCE & VIE - remind you of U2???!! The book ends in 1976, but I believe one of the 1-11's was leased to CY for 13 months from October '76. A ZB Britannia can still be enjoyed today at Duxford.
Nema From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2006, 793 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 18619 times:
Yeah i think they deserve a good thread on here. I have flown them several times over the years, is it Cosmos that is there sister travel company?.
For the last couple of Christmas vacations we have flown Monarch from BHX to Tenerife. Not cheap though but as already said, like our now lost Britannia, this is a name from a solid company that we should cherish.
There isnt really a dark side to the moon, as a matter of fact its all dark!
Jamman From United Kingdom, joined May 2007, 142 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 18543 times:
I'll just add my 2p here being a charter airline brat for most of my years, I think Monarch have done tremendously well and have built up a steady business over the years not doing anything crazy that could put their finances at risk and that has stood them in good stead.
I was more of a Britannia Airways flyer but Monarch has always had a place in my heart and have flown on their 757's a couple of times, I look to the future where perhaps I could fly with them across the pond!
Boeing74741R From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2007, 1215 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 18336 times:
I personally think that what has helped Monarch over their 40 years in existence is the fact that their excellent service and forward thinking strategies has meant that they have built up a large army of loyal passengers, which has meant that they will keep flying with Monarch again and again, and will recommend them to other people. I first flew with them last July and was impressed as the people who had recommended them to me had been proven right, and they have my money for another flight next month. Hopefully I will be flying with them again and again where possible.
Whilst other airlines in the UK charter industry offer equally good service, what hasn't helped them is that they have gone through so many brand changes over the years (even those who have only been around half the time that Monarch has) they are unrecognisable and is basically 'another charter airline'. Britannia was the only other airline that could possibly be compared to Monarch (long history in charter flights with a sister LCC operation under a different brand), but that name has been ditched by TUI and are unrecognisable from what they once were and what made them popular.
I am a huge fan of the Monarch Scheduled arm where, although the freebie count has been dropping over the years, offers something different for flights to popular European holiday destinations for a price which is not much more expensive than the likes of easyJet and Jet2. With GB Airways now consigned to the history books, Monarch Scheduled now has the market in which GT operated within to themselves and will ensure that they continue to develop that arm.
So all it leaves me to say now is, congratulations and here's to many more years of Monarch Airlines in the skies.
Orion737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 18309 times:
Most of my memoeries of MON come from charter flying. They were always a good airline, equal to BY or AMM and then they introduced their much advocated Cown Service for scheduled flights. this was charter flight prices but with all the extras, newspapares, complimentary bar, hot 3 course meal including choice of wines etc. then they abandoned it and now I only fly MON on their limited charter programme.
ACEregular From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2003, 678 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 18233 times:
My first flight with Monarch was when I was 5 in the very early 80s from Luton to Alicante and back. I have no real recollection of the flight though my family assure me it was a Boeing 737 both ways. Someone somewhere in my family tree will have one of those pictures they used to take of holidaymakers disembarking onto the Spanish tarmac. Only in my case I will look considerably smaller and dubiously dressed. My next flight with Monarch was in 1996 from Palma to Gatwick on the A300-600R G-MONR, a really cramped and uncomfortable plane, but the service onboard was impeccable. The crew were the product (no joking aside). I was very impressed. I flew Monarch again in 2001 flying from Arrecife to Luton on A321 G-MARA, a really nice aircraft with a memorably excellent service. My next flight with MON was from Manchester to Palma on B757-200 G-MONB. Again all of the services were set to same standard as my previous experience and the crew again were similarly polite and professional. Around this time I had flown AMM, AIH, BY and CKT fairly regularly but found the ambience on a Manarch flight was slightly different. I have heard the A330 though is somewhat dated in comparison to the products offered by other long-haul charter operators. If they dont want the crown to slip thats something they definately need to remedy soon so that they offer a concise service on all operations.
Finally does anyone remember when they based an A320 at NCL for the Summer, I believe it was 1994? Shame they still dont operate a summer base here, it would certainly make for some variety. I am sure they flew a relative to Corfu and back and they said it was a great flight.
BCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 14
Reply 22, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 18197 times:
Quoting Nema (Reply 13): is it Cosmos that is there sister travel company?.
Yes, Cosmos is their sister company.
Quoting YVRLTN (Reply 11): Airline Engineering had been set up at this time to look after the mx of Britannia's and they also looked after other airlines such as African Safari, CU, Int'l Aviation Services and several others.
I think this is incorrect. The two directors who left British Eagle before its collapse, Bill Hodgson and Don Peacock, started with engineering and maintenance facilities at LTN for other airlines but were approached to operate flights, probably partly due to the eventual collapse of British Eagle which left some tour operators without any airline to fly their passengers. It was then that the Swiss-Italian Mantegazza family, who owned the Globus Gatway Group, provided the financial backing for them to source and buy the aircraft to fly the passengers and Monarch Airlines was founded. They did all their engineering and maintenance in-house from the start.
Separate from the above I go to Gran Canaria in the early summer and normally fly BA whose flights were operated by GB under the franchise agreement. After U2 brought GB, I checked the summer fares and found the fare with U2 for flights in June 2008 were quoted at over GBP 450 without any extras (speedy boarding, hold luggage etc). I found flights on Monarch for the same dates and even with Monarch Plus, their fare was GBP 175 including taxes. No doubt which airline I booked.
MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
Orion737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 18172 times:
They seem to do less charter flights even for Cosmos. Cosmos seem to be making increased use of ZB schheduled which is a shame as its means less charter flights from them, which is a shame. I particularly loved MON Plus service bookable on Monarch charter flights on short haul, dont know if thats gone by the way too.
I know Danny bernstein was head honcho at MON for many years, in its heyday when it was a good old fashiioned bucket and spade carrier.
GAWZU From United Kingdom, joined May 2002, 235 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 18145 times:
Quoting Orion737 (Reply 23): in its heyday when it was a good old fashiioned bucket and spade carrier.
Indeed it was, but sadly the times move on! As has been hinted at several times already, Monarch has done exceptionally well at responding to a changing market, changing attitudes to air travel and changing costs. And probably more so - and with more integrity - than any other British carrier.
Congratulations to a fantastic airline on reaching a fantastic milestone.
: Im not so sure. I think some on the integrity has diminished, as happens when you adopt a no frills business plan, even at an airline with a long repu
: Ahhhh, the famous days of Monarch, I was never lucky enough to fly them, but as a kid, I was oh so envious of the folks that got to fly those 757's fr
: Can anyone help answer this question please. Monarch and sister tour operater Cosmos are advertising 33" seat pitch for Monarch aircraft, but they hav
: Good luck ,any mention of the 300s which are stciking round? they really ned the revamp as they are the most tight and uncomfortable aircraft in the M
: Monarch have a very good scheduled onboard service IMO and a service that is well suited to the routes they do......basically a Scheduled version of c
: Yes but get off that high horse, because GT WERE good as MON , maybe better but now they are a no frills like EZY and ZB offers papers, hot meals for
: I suppose, but they were similar in the fact that their portfolio of routes were (apart from the GT Austrian routes and others) similar, you could be
: Yes but ZB scheduled service is not the same as ZB scheduled 10 years ago. They very much changed their product after dropping Crown Class
: I think we've all forgotten something....Happy 40th birthday Monarch. Long may you fly
: Isnt it FlyMonarch now??? Thats sad!!
: I'd Like to bet that the ex employees of GB, now fully integrated into easyJet are on much better terms of employment, with better staff perks, pay s
: There was only ever going to be one merger/takeover by the Mantegazzas, and that was First Choice, but they slept the pillow and missed it. I as much
: My statement was also in the past tense......WERE. But thanks for the incredibly rude, almost personal, reply Orion. For your information perhaps how
: Hey I have flown MON many times and I totally love them. I must admit I still prefer the ‘classic’ livery over the new one, but I guess things mus
: 19 November 1989...LUT-TXL-LUT on G-MCKE!. Just after the Wall opened up. A great trip on a great airline. A real party atmosphere, given the occasion
: Kimberly. short of marrying you, Im adding you to my respected user lieat. You miss BY so much you would never fly with 'that' company again! Like it
: I too miss the Britannia name and the old Britannia livery but to not fly with a charter carrier on this basis is a little stupid. I say this because
: Kim is my new best friend and she's not stupid, shes loyal to a charter airlines who's name lives on in our hearts forever. I know going from GB to EZ
: But that is something that you fail to understand Orion. Many UK members here probably feel the same about the charter airlines. I certainly do and to
: A predilection for Rolls-Royce engines whenever possible? Great thread! Thanks! I flew twice on MON 1-11s (LTN-VCE-LTN) and my first published photo
: I wish GT4EZY would stop telling me how I feel and explaning to me in 'Janet and John' terms the recent changes and trends in both the charter and tou
: Seeing as Orion is happy reminiscing.....I found these today, blew the dust off them, and thought you might want to get all misty eyed over them. They
: And I thought you didnt love me! Thank you very much for that