The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is the UK's specialist aviation regulator with responsibilities that include ensuring that consumers are protected and treated fairly when they fly. They also ensure that security risks are effectively managed and that the aviation industry meets the highest safety standards.
At 4am on Monday 2nd October 2017 Monarch Airlines (the then fifth largest carrier at the time in the UK) announced that it had ceased trading and entered into administration. Monarch and the CAA had been in talks for a few weeks and the CAA had had already put contingency plans into place, for if the worse happened and Monarch ceased to trade. CMAC Group were part of these plans and assisted in what became the biggest repatriation of UK citizens in peace time.
In the early hours of the morning on 2nd October CMAC received a call from the CAA to activate our contingency plans. By 6am we had received a manifest of flights for that day and which airports these would be landing in. At this point the Service Delivery Team began to arrange coach and taxi travel for those passengers who did not arrive at their expected airport. The team had arranged all the travel requirements within 30 minutes of receiving the manifest.
During this morning the Service Delivery Team also had the sombre task of standing down all the Monarch crew transport that had already been arranged for them, as Monarch had been one of CMAC's very first clients. Arif Hussain, Service Delivery Manager said, "It really was a difficult time for our Service Delivery team as they had an incredibly busy and stressful day ahead of them which was coupled with dealing with the difficulties of losing a client who had become part of the family."
It became clear from an early stage that exceptional communications would be required between ourselves and the CAA to ensure that all travel requirements were met and passengers were cared for at what would be a stressful time for them. CMAC set up a dedicated hotline for the CAA, initiated 'daily wash-up sessions' and arranged for ground co-ordinators at Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham airports. Stephen Ramsay, Regional Manager commented, "Our co-ordinators were fantastic helping passengers to their coaches and ensuring they were happy. They organised refreshments to make the long journeys more comfortable and were on hand to answer any questions."
Over a three-week period, CMAC helped to repatriate over 32,000 Monarch customers. Working in conjunction with fantastic suppliers, who really went the extra mile to provide to provide great customer service.
"Successfully bringing back to the UK nearly 100,000 Monarch customers was a team effort. CMAC was an essential member of that team, responding quickly and professionally to what was the UK’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation exercise, and making sure that so many customers were looked after in what was an incredibly stressful situation for them. A huge thank you to everyone at CMAC from all of us at the CAA."
Richard Moriarty, Director, Consumers and Markets Group, CAA
Peter Slater, Operations Director for CMAC commented, "This was one or our busiest periods since CMAC began operations ten years ago. It was a pleasure to help support the CAA during this time and I am very proud of how professional all the teams involved from CMAC and the CAA were and how well we worked together during what was a very stressful time."