Scheduled services now account for 60% of Monarch’s passengers

Image: Disco on board
Monach’s scheduled services demand good old fashioned cabin service. Ibiza accounted for four of the eight new routes launched last year promoted in partnership with Hed Kandi, the self-proclaimed ‘record label, radio show, international club sensation and more’, which resulted in an aircraft getting a special makeover.

UK-based Monarch airlines may have been around since 1968 and well known as a charter airline, but in recent years it has evolved into a predominantly scheduled carrier operating to Spain and Portugal (and now Cyprus) from four major bases across the UK. It recently reported that its scheduled traffic had grown by almost 16% in 2007, partly thanks to the launch of eight new routes.

Chart: CHT Monarch 00-07
Source: UK CAA

The shift from charter to scheduled services can clearly be seen in the above graph. Total passenger numbers passed six million for the first time in 2007 and have grown by a very modest six to nine percent in each of the last four years. In 2000 less than 10% of Monarch’s passengers flew on their scheduled services, last year it was just under 60%. The Monarch fleet consists of around 30 aircraft in total, and features a mix of Airbus (A320, A321 and a couple of A330s) and Boeing (757s) with the scheduled network using mostly the A320s and A321s.

Six Dreamliners: first due 2010

Image: dreamliner

An order for six 787 Dreamliners was placed in August 2006 with the first delivery planned for November 2010. However, in light of recent delays to the flight test programme the airline is already contingency planning in case delivery is delayed.

Four UK bases for scheduled services

Monarch’s charter flights operate from 11 UK airports and serve around 30 destinations around the Mediterranean, North Africa and Florida (Orlando Sanford), but its scheduled services are currently focussed at just four – Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester. Of these the Birmingham base which commenced in April 2005 is the most recent.

Nearly all destinations served are either in Spain or Portugal which results in demand being extremely seasonal. This also impacts on the average sector length which is much higher than the low cost carrier norm at around 1800 kilometres.

Chart: CHT Monarch Seasonality
Source: UK CAA

Monarch’s peak to off-peak ratio (August to January) has increased from 2:1 in 2005 to 3:1 in 2007. While passenger numbers in January have remained virtually unchanged for the last three years, peak August traffic has increased by over 50% in just two years from 300,000 in 2005 to over 450,000 in 2007.

Image: advertThe other new routes launched last summer were Gatwick – Murcia, Luton – Almeria, Manchester – Jerez and the airline’s first scheduled flights to Larnaca (Cyprus) from London Luton. These were presumably a success since this summer Gatwick and Manchester will also get scheduled links to Larnaca beginning in March and May respectively. Two other new routes for 2008 are Manchester – Murcia (which starts on 8 February) and Gatwick – Mahon/Menorca which begins 21 March.

Granada and Lisbon join Madrid and Naples

During the last year scheduled services to Granada and Lisbon (both from Gatwick) have been axed. These two destinations join Madrid and Naples as scheduled destinations that have failed to deliver satisfactory results. Another experiment (which began in November 2005) of linking Aberdeen, Newquay and Blackpool to Malaga has also been shelved.

Weekly frequencies for this week are shown in the accompanying table. Manchester is the biggest base with the three others about equal in size, at least during winter. Malaga and Alicante are the most popular destinations at this time of year. By the height of the summer season Gran Canaria (Las Palmas), Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca will also be served from some or all of the base airports and weekly frequencies on all of the winter routes will have been greatly increased.

Chart: CHT Monarch weekly frequency


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