October 9, 2017 / 3:29 PM / a year ago

UK discussing Monarch compensation with credit, debit card firms

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s transport minister said on Monday the costs of bringing home 110,000 customers of airline Monarch, which collapsed last week, were being discussed with credit and debit card companies.

Monarch aircraft are seen parked after the airline ceased trading, at Luton airport in Britain, October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner

Monarch MONA.UL went bust last week amid intense competition over passengers and a weaker pound following the Brexit vote decimated company profits.

It is the largest British airline to collapse and its demise left thousands of customers stranded abroad. That led the government to ask the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to charter aircraft to bring them home - Britain’s biggest peacetime repatriation operation.

“I am also aware of the duty this government has to the taxpayer and ... we’ve entered into discussions with several third parties with the aim of recovering costs of the operation,” transport minister Chris Grayling told parliament.

“We’re currently engaged in constructive discussions with the relevant credit and debit card providers so we recoup from them some of the costs to taxpayers of these repatriation flights,” he said in a statement.

“We’re also having similar discussions with other travel providers through which passengers may have booked a Monarch holiday.”

Administrators at KPMG are currently in the process of selling off Monarch’s assets, a spokeswoman said, including airport slots, prepaid fuel, property and equipment. Three-quarters of Monarch passengers who were abroad when the company folded have now been brought home, Grayling said, with the operation requiring up to 35 planes at any one time, borrowed from 27 different airlines.

Monarch’s demise also left over 1,800 workers redundant but Grayling said the airline’s experienced former employees were in high demand from rivals.

“Virgin Atlantic are offering a fast track recruitment process for cabin crew and pilots, and easyJet have invited applications for 500 cabin crew vacancies,” Grayling said.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association and the trade union Unite have both separately criticized Monarch for its handling of staff redundancies last week and said they would take action to secure compensation for them.

Reporting by Polina Ivanova; editing by Mark Heinrich

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