12,000 stranded Monarch customers fly home in the first 24-hours of huge rescue operation

LONDON — The emergency rescue operation to bring home holidaymakers stranded by the collapse of Monarch Airlines has already flown 11,843 people home.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed on Tuesday that it flew 61 flights back to the UK on Monday, following Monarch’s collapse into administration early on Monday morning.

Around 98,000 Monarch customers still remain abroad. Over 50,000 are expected to be flown home this week, with over half currently in Spain or the Spanish islands. The first two flights put on by the CAA came from Ibiza.

Monarch is the largest ever UK airline to go bust and the government ordered the CAA to organise the emergency rescue of all customers left stranded overseas.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling called the operation “the country’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation,” while CAA CEO Andrew Haines said the rescue operation was like “putting together, at very short notice and for a period of two weeks, what is effectively one of the UK’s largest airlines to manage this task.” The Daily Mirror on Tuesday compared the effort to the rescue of troops from Dunkirk during World War Two.

The BBC reports that the effort will cost the CAA an estimated £60 million. The CAA has already chartered jets from Qatar Airways, Canada’s Air Transat, and easyJet, according to the Independent. 30 planes have been chartered in total.

The collapse of Monarch has led to estimated job losses of 1,900, with close to 250 staff kept on to help the CAA with repatriation efforts.

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