Monarch Airlines adds five new destinations for 2017; 13 new routes from five UK bases as Boeing 737 MAXs replace Airbus fleet by 2022
When we last examined Monarch Airlines back in May 2016 there was some uncertainty about the airline’s future ownership. This has now been resolved with Greybull Capital having invested significantly in the airline to secure its future. Now only operating scheduled services from five UK bases (Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester), this summer will see the leisure carrier offer 104 routes, an increase of eight compared with last year. A total of 13 new routes have been added while five have been dropped (four to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt). Of the 13 new routes, 10 are to five airports that were not served last summer; Porto, Split, Stockholm Arlanda, Valencia and Zagreb.
According to UK CAA data the airline carried some 5.44 million passengers in 2016 at an average load factor of 76.0%. The previous year Monarch had transported 5.72 million passenger with an average load factor of 82.3%. In fact, the airline operated 2.4% more flights in 2016 (35,619) than in 2015 (34,796) but the number of ASKs (Available Seat Kilometres) fell by 3.3% from 14.74 billion in 2015 to 14.25 billion in 2016, indicating a reduction in the average sector length for the carrier.
Seasonality remains a major issue for Monarch, although the airline is tackling this. In recent years, while the number of passengers in winter has remained relatively stable, the summer peak has been slightly less pronounced. However, in 2016, passenger numbers in August (almost 700,000) were still more than three times the passenger figure for November (just under 225,000).
According to UK CAA data the airline’s 34 Airbus aircraft (as of the end of 2016) averaged 8.7 hours daily utilisation across all of 2016, 10.3 hours for the nine A320s and 8.3 hours for its 25 A321s. For comparison, Thomson Airways’ 33 737-800s averaged 10.7 hours last year and Thomas Cook Airlines’ 21 A321s averaged 10.2 hours.
Five new destinations for Monarch Airlines in summer 2017
Monarch offers more routes from Birmingham (30) than from any of its other bases, but London Gatwick still sees more weekly departures (145) in the first week of August, with Birmingham second (139). Five new destinations have been added this summer (highlighted in yellow in the table below); two in Croatia and one each in Portugal, Spain and Sweden. This brings to 35 the number of destinations served in mainland Europe from the airline’s five UK bases. Overall the number of weekly flights this summer looks to be up around 3%.
The airline’s top four destinations are unchanged compared with last summer; Palma de Mallorca, Malaga, Faro and Alicante. Out of the airline’s top 10 destinations seven are in Spain, with the others being Faro, Dalaman (in Turkey) and Gibraltar. Earlier this year, Monarch celebrated 20 years of serving Gibraltar from London Luton, the airline’s oldest scheduled service. Routes to Spain (56%) and Portugal (16%) still account for almost three-quarters of the airline’s flights this summer with Italy, Turkey and Croatia the next three biggest country markets.
Competition is tough for Monarch, with several airlines competing on a large chunk of the airline’s network. Thomson competes directly on 64 of the airline’s 104 routes, easyJet on 46, Jet2.com on 41 routes, Thomas Cook on 41 and Ryanair on 33.
45 737 MAX 8s set to replace Airbus fleet by 2022
Monarch placed an order for 30 737 MAX 8s in October 2014 with the first aircraft set for delivery in April 2018. It recently confirmed an additional order for a further 15 of the type. By 2022 it is expected that the airline will be operating an all-Boeing fleet. To help get used to Boeing aircraft, Monarch has recently leased in a 737-800, formerly operated by Pegasus Airlines, which will operate a number of routes from the airline’s Birmingham base for the rest of the summer.