A review following the collapse of Monarch has recommended a “less than 50p” per passenger levy on all air tickets to create a new ring-fenced fund set aside to bring home travellers stranded in the event of an airline going bust.
The Flight Protection Scheme (FPS) would protect all ex-UK passengers, irrespective of whether they hold an Atol certificate, and would crucially avoid a repeat of the government’s costly intervention in the Monarch crisis.
The failure of Monarch Airlines in October 2017 left nearly 100,000 passengers stranded overseas and affected another 750,000 passengers with forward bookings – only around 20% of which were protected under the Atol scheme. It triggered the UK’s largest peace-time repatriation exercise, at a reported cost of £60 million to the taxpayer.
The Department for Transport has since confirmed the final cost to the taxpayer of repatriating around 85,000 Monarch passengers came in at £40.5 million.
Established in January 2018, the Airline Insolvency Review – chaired by Peter Bucks – published its report on Thursday (9 May) recommending a new “formal repatriation protection scheme” covering all ex-UK air passengers holding a return ticket with an airline that becomes insolvent while they are overseas.
The scheme would require UK registered airlines to secure sufficient, and demonstrable, security through insurance or bonding to cover the cost of a repatriation operation in the event of insolvency, which would then be paid for through an, on average, 40p levy on air tickets, with an additional 9p surcharge during the first five years of the scheme to create an operational pot.
This would be used to foot the cost of repatriation, and allow passengers to reclaim costs arising from an insolvency – such as having to book rescue fares.