Monarch Airlines – a former travel operator many of us long-term AvGeeks and holiday-goers will remember. When news sprung up on the 19th August that the airline was set to be revived by news owners, many publications jumped on the opportunity to break this ‘exclusive’ news, but digging a little deeper reveals a short and sad story of this ‘revival’.
Monarch Airlines ‘set to return’
On 19th August, news began to circulate on X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn and Instagram that “following the exit of the companies’ founder and previous majority shareholder”, Monarch Airlines was set to return under new owners.
The original brand, Monarch Travel Group, failed in October 2017 after
£466 million in debt, leading to the UK’s largest peacetime repatriation mission, after over 85,000 holidaymakers were stranded overseas – this cost the industry over £60 million.
The post directed attention to a website – letsmonarch.co.uk – utilising the Favicon icon of doomed Flybe 2.0. Over the coming week, the airlines appointed ‘chairman’, Daniel Ellingham, would give several interviews to the media, and a string of follow up announcements made on the lets monarch branded social media pages, and website followed. These included a new logo, livery and announcement of Luton as the company’s main operating base.
Things take a turn
Yesterday Lets Monarch put out a public statement:
“A statement from our Board: It is with immense regret that we announce today that we have been forced to put the brakes on our process to relaunch Monarch.
“This is not a decision that we have taken lightly, however since taking over the business two weeks ago we have drawn close to exhausted the start-up funding provided to us far more rapidly than anticipated.
“We have been seeking alternative routes, such as partial divestment of share capital, and will continue to do so, however at the current stage there is no practical option to move forward in the immediate future.”
This is quite a strange and sudden announcement for a legitimate startup – how has initial capital, confirmed just a few days prior, been completely exhausted in just 10 days?
But the story doesn’t end there. Appointed Monarch Chairman Daniel Ellingham’s LinkedIn profile picture, is an AI altered copy of that of US Politician John Driscoll, who ran for the US Senate in Montana in 2020:
So what exactly is happening at Monarch? Someone with skills in web design could have easily put together the fake holding page that was letsmonarch.co.uk, but this goes deeper than a simple website. Registered companies were setup with the UK’s Companies House, complete with directors and secretaries – said companies have now been dissolved. Interviews were published by reputable news publications such as Airways Magazine and FINN – the official website of the Farnborough Airshow.
How were these interviews conducted? Did anyone ever verify the people they were speaking with? Will we ever find out if this was an elaborate hoax or simply an innocent failure at revival? One things for sure, this failed our fact-checking process here at Travel Radar, but it goes to show just how easily fake news can spread online.
We’ll bring you further updates as/when they become available. Lets Monarch failed to respond to media enquiries about this collapse, however the UK Civil Aviation Authority (UKCAA) have confirmed no AOC application was ever made by the company.