In the early hours of yesterday morning, the troubled but popular British charter airline, Monarch went into administration. The news broke when there weren’t any flights in the air but many of the airline’s 2,000 staff including cabin crew would have been preparing for a day of work ahead.
Instead, Monarch aircraft were grounded at the five airport bases it uses around the UK. Staff were informed they would be made redundant with the carrier ceasing trading immediately. For now, KPMG, a specialist administrator is pouring over the airline’s finances to see what remuneration staff might receive.
Sadly, Monarch’s demise had been on the cards for some time. The airline has been struggling since at least 2010 with the rise of low-cost carriers cutting into Monarch’s customer base. Only last year, Monarch was sold on to a private equity firm, Greybull Capital who promised to inject £165 million of funding into the ailing carrier.
Nonetheless, the airline has continued to struggle and Monarch had been forced to deny rumours of an impending financial crisis on several occasions. The most recent came at the end of September when there was talk that the airline could not afford to extend it’s ATOL licence (an insurance scheme that protects holidaymakers should any airline go bust).
Unfortunately, the rumours turned out to be true. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority confirmed the news of Monarch falling into administration. And while the CAA is charged with arranging rescue flights to repatriate British holidaymakers stranded abroad, none will be operated by either the grounded Monarch aircraft or crew.
It seems that Monarch’s luck has finally run out. There was speculation that low-cost mavericks, Norwegian Air Shuttle might snap up both Monarch’s staff and assets – that no longer seems to be on the cards. Nor are there any other potential bidders who have made themselves known.
For now, it seems like Monarch’s cabin crew will have to search for a new job. On this though, there is some good news. It’s not like air passenger numbers are falling in the UK – In fact, they’re at record levels. There are plenty of airlines who need cabin crew and quite a few are actively recruiting.
So here’s a breakdown of what airline’s Monarch cabin crew might find themselves working at in the next few months – along with the pro’s and con’s.
But first, before we dive into what airlines currently have opportunities, a word about locations. Monarch used to operate from predominantly regional airports – Leed Bradford, Manchester and Birmingham as well as London Luton and London Gatwick.
Many of the opportunities available right now are based in the South of Britain and in London. Depending on individual circumstances, however, many of these jobs might still be really attractive to Monarch cabin crew.
easyJet – Bristol, Southend and London Gatwick
easyJet recently embarked on one of its largest recruitment campaigns to date and although many of the positions have now been filled, there are still some bases with vacancies.
The airline offers similar working conditions, the same type of aircraft as Monarch and the ability to work closer to home without long layovers. Most of the bases offer permanent contracts and the opportunities to earn a decent commission-based salary are good.
BMI Regional – Bristol
Even by Monarchs’s standards, BMI Regional is a tiny airline and it might not suit everyone’s needs. But it does offer a solid short-haul network and the airline has successfully carved out a profitable niche for itself.
However, the airline currently only employ’s 400 staff, operates Embraer turbo-prop aircraft and is only hiring at Bristol airport at the moment. This might not be an opportunity that appeals to many.
British Airways – London Heathrow and Gatwick
A far larger airline, of course, is the UK’s flag carrier, British Airways. The airline is currently hiring at both its base at Heathrow and Gatwick – for LGW-based roles, you must already hold an EASA cabin crew attestation which may come in really handy for Monarch cabin crew who want to pursue this option.
The company culture could be a big stumbling block but the opportunities and stability at the airline are a big benefit. Unlike Monarch, new cabin crew at British Airways work a combination of long haul and short haul trips. Many existing cabin crew ‘commute’ from further afield so this is a worthy airline to consider.
Virgin Atlantic – London Heathrow and Gatwick (Dual-base)
Despite being based in Crawley, Virgin Atlantic cabin crew are expected to operate from both London Heathrow and Gatwick. Only operating long-haul flights, there’s the option to ‘commute’ from further afield and earn a decent salary in overnight allowances.
On the down side, Virgin are currently only hiring new cabin crew on 6-month fixed term contracts. We haven’t heard of anyone being let go by Virgin after this time but they have this as an option should the airline’s financial position deteriorate suddenly. Also, remember that career progression at Virgin Atlantic can be very limited.
Norwegian – London Gatwick
Norwegian operate both short-haul and long-haul services but at the moment, it’s only the long haul arm which is hiring new cabin crew. The airline pays reasonably well but cabin crew are expected to spend quite a long time away from home during each trip. The route network is also currently limited and different crew belonging on various contracts fly to different destinations.
Who aren’t hiring?
More regional airline’s like Flybe aren’t currenrtly recruiting new cabin crew. Other charter airline’s such as Thomson and Thomas Cook are recruiting but successful candidates won’t start until Summer 2018 – and that’s only for a seasonal contract.