Monarch Airlines one-year on – eight routes missing in S18; and British Airways among carriers to pick up seats

British Airways, GIB

British Airways added the most capacity on former Monarch routes from London Gatwick in W17/18 and S18. BA benefited from taking on its former competitors slots at the London airport, which allowed it to introduce several new routes in S18, including this connection to Gibraltar which launched on 25 May. The carrier added a link to Menorca on the same day, and started operations to Palma de Mallorca on 26 May, routes flown by Monarch.

Monarch Airlines fell into administration on 2 October 2017. The carrier was one of the longest established airline brands in the UK, having only celebrated its 50th anniversary in the months before its collapse. The carrier had a long association with leisure and charter flying before re-positioning itself as a purely scheduled carrier. At the time of its demise it was operating a fleet of 10 A320s, 25 A321s, and a single 737-800 from five UK bases at Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, London Gatwick, London Luton, and Manchester.

To determine the impact of the carrier’s passing, has compared Monarch’s final winter and summer season schedules (W16/17 and S17) with the first winter and summer programmes to be operated following its demise (W17/18 and S18) across its five former UK bases. We examine which destinations have been lost completely, how many have suffered from a drop in capacity and which have seen no ill effects at all. The airlines that have replaced the most Monarch seats are also identified.

Most seats at Manchester in W16/17

Manchester was Monarch’s biggest base during W16/17, based on available capacity, with nearly 285,000 departing seats scheduled. It accounted for 31% of the airline’s available seats from the UK during this period. The smallest operation was at Leeds Bradford which accounted for just 4.1% of Monarch’s departing UK capacity in the airline’s final winter season. Birmingham saw the third most capacity in W16/17, but Monarch accounted for a larger share of total winter seats from the Midlands airport than from any of its other UK bases. The airline provided 8.5% of all W16/17 seats departing Birmingham. Its smallest market share was at Gatwick, where it only accounted for 3.1% of the available capacity.

Monarch, W16/17

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

Gatwick top for S17 seats 

Gatwick played host to the largest Monarch operation in S17, based on available capacity. The London airport saw more than 750,000 departing seats on the carrier’s flights during that period. Leeds Bradford was once again the smallest of the five UK bases with 132,000 seats on offer during the airline’s final summer season. Monarch’s largest market share was again achieved at Birmingham, with the carrier operating 13% of the airport’s departing summer seats. Its smallest capacity share was at Gatwick, where the airline only accounted for 4.4% of the seats available in S17.

Monarch S17 seats

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

Five routes lost in W17/18 and eight in S18

The below table shows the number of routes Monarch operated from its five UK bases in W16/17 and S17 and which of these were lost from airport departure boards as a result of the carrier’s collapse. For those routes that continue to be operated by other carriers, the table shows how many have seen a decline or increase in capacity when W16/17 is compared to W17/18, and S17 is contrasted with S18.

Monarch operated 73 routes from its five UK bases in W16/17. It should be noted that summer destinations that continued into the first few weeks of the winter season are not included in this count. Of the 73 winter routes, five were completely lost from airport schedules in W17/18. Birmingham suffered the most in this regard, with three routes cut from its network, namely Gibraltar, Lisbon and Venice ( started serving the latter in S18). The other two were cut from Luton, with services to Gibraltar and Eilat Ovda not getting picked up by alternative operators. Manchester lost regular flights to Almeria, but this route was still served by, limited, irregular flights from Thomas Cook Airlines and TUI Airways.

Of the remaining 68 winter airport pairs served by Monarch in W16/17, 61 continued to be operated by other carriers but suffered a drop in capacity for W17/18, with Manchester and Gatwick each seeing a decline in seat numbers on 19 routes. The remaining five airports pairs actually saw an increase in capacity. These included links from Birmingham to Salzburg and Turin, Manchester to Lanzarote, Gatwick to Kittilä, Lyon and Turin, and Luton to Tel Aviv. Based on a like-for-like comparison of the routes previously operated by Monarch, Birmingham lost the most capacity from W16/17 to W17/18. This is unsurprising given that the Midlands airport saw the largest number of discontinued destinations as a result of the carrier’s collapse. Birmingham saw a 28% reduction in capacity on Monarch’s former winter network. This compares to declines of 22% at Manchester, 21% at Luton, 17% at Leeds Bradford and 12% at Gatwick.

Airport Monarch destinations Destinations Lost Routes with capacity decline Routes with capacity increase
W16 S17 W17 v W16 S18 v S17 W17 v W16 S18 v S17 W17 v W16 S18 v S17
BHX 18 30 3 5 13 22 2 3
MAN 20 26 0 1 19 21 1 4
LGW 22 23 0 1 19 17 3 5
LTN 9 15 2 1 6 10 1 4
LBA 4 10 0 0 4 9 0 1
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser. W16 = W16/17, W17 = W17/18.

Monarch offered 104 routes across its five UK bases in S17. It should be noted that ski season services that continued into mid-April are not included in this count. Of Monarch’s 104 S17 routes, eight have been lost in S18, with no other carriers taking them on. Birmingham has lost the most, with five destinations discontinued. These include the two of the three routes already identified as missing in the W17/18 schedule (Gibraltar and Lisbon), plus Nice , Preveza and Valenica. Other routes missing from the S18 schedules are Manchester to Zagreb, Gatwick to Zagreb, and the previously highlighted Luton to Gibraltar sector which also went unserved in W17/18 (easyJet will add Gibraltar to its Luton network from December 2018). Leeds Bradford was the only one of the five UK airports to not lose any destinations as a result of Monarch ceasing operations, but it also had the smallest number of routes among the carrier’s bases.

The remaining 96 airport pairs served by Monarch in S17 continue to be operated by other carriers in S18. Of these, 79 witnessed a year-on-year decline in seat numbers, with Birmingham and Manchester seeing the most links to suffer capacity cuts at 22 and 21 respectively. The remaining 17 former Monarch summer routes saw a boost in capacity in S18 including five at Gatwick, four each at Luton and Manchester, three at Birmingham and one at Leeds Bradford.  Based on a like-for-like comparison of the routes previously operated by Monarch, Birmingham lost the most capacity from S17 to W18 with a 23% reduction in departing seats. This compared to a 15% decline at Luton, 14% at Manchester, 12% at Leeds Bradford and 10% at Gatwick.

Alternative airlines take up slack

In a lot of cases, the routes previously operated by Monarch that survived into W17/18 and S18 were already being served by other carriers at the time of the airline’s demise. Where this was the case, there are multiple examples of those carriers increasing their capacity on certain airport pairs to take advantage of the holes left by Monarch. The large number of routes that still saw a decline in total seat numbers between W16/17 and W17/18, plus between S17 and S18, indicates that these capacity increases were not always enough to offset the loss of Monarch’s flights, and it remains to be seen how much rationalisation will take place over the airline’s former routes in the years ahead. added the most capacity on former Monarch routes in both W17/18 an S18 at Birmingham, Leeds Bradford and Manchester. At its home hub of Leeds Bradford the carrier was already operating all four of Monarch’s former W16/17 routes and all 10 of its S17 connections. subsequently added capacity on three of the winter routes and all of the summer links in W17/18 and S18 respectively. The airline’s biggest impact on former Monarch routes came at Birmingham, where it opened a base in S17. W17/18 was’s first winter season at the Midlands airport during which it started services on 12 of Monarch’s W16/17 routes, offering 118,000 departing seats on these services. In S18 it served 21 of Monarch’s 30 former summer routes from Birmingham. had already been operating 14 of these connections in S17 but added capacity on all of them for S18. It also introduced seven former Monarch routes to its S18 schedule. British Airways added the most capacity on former Monarch routes from Gatwick in both W17/18 and S18. This included the introduction of services to Gibraltar, Menorca and Palma de Mallorca this summer. BA benefited from taking on Monarch’s former Gatwick slots, allowing it to expand its capacity at the London airport. At Luton, easyJet and Wizz Air added the most seats on former Monarch routes.
Cobalt, LGW

Cobalt was one carrier to begin services on a former Monarch route when it introduced flights from London Gatwick to Larnaca on 30 October 2017. Seen cutting the cake on the apron at Gatwick on the day of the inauguration are Simon Edwards, Airline Business Development Manager, Gatwick Airport and Andrew Madar, former CEO of Cobalt.


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