DALLAS — Today in Aviation, the UK’s fifth-largest airline, Monarch Airlines (ZB), ceased operations in 2017. Its failure was, at the time, the biggest in British aviation history. It also created the largest repatriation since World War Two, until Thomas Cook’s collapse two years later.
The airline took to the skies on April 5, 1968, with a charter flight from London’s Luton Airport (LTN) to Madrid (MAD) using an ex-Caledonian Bristol 175 Britannia.
Monarch entered the jet age on December 13, 1971, following the arrival of the Boeing 720B. Its introduction also coincided with the adoption of a revised livery.
The 1980s were an exciting time for Monarch. The airline took delivery of its first Boeing 737-200 Advanced at the end of 1980. In 1981, new bases were opened at Gatwick (LGW), Glasgow (GLA), Manchester (MAN), and Berlin Tegel (TXL). ZB also carried a million passengers for the first time.
On May 1, 1988, Monarch operated the UK’s first trans-Atlantic Extended-range Twin-Engine Operations (ETOPS) flight. The Boeing 757-200ER (G-MONJ) carrying 235 passengers left LTN, bound for Orlando (MCO) via Gander (YQX).
Growing competition from low-cost carriers led to a change in direction during the 2000s. After years of losses, Monarch was purchased by Greybull Capital in October 2014. Despite investing £165 million, losses continued and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) revoked the carrier’s license.
Featured image: Monarch Airlines G-OZBH Airbus A321-231. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways