Aerial view of the London Heathrow Airport
Aerial view of the London Heathrow Airport iStock

Over 110,000 passengers were left abroad after one of Great Britain’s largest airline companies collapsed Monday, leaving thousands stranded and forced to purchase return flights at their own expense.

Monarch Airlines announced Monday that it had ceased all operations, effective immediately.

“[W]e are sorry to inform you that, as of 2 October 2017, all future holidays and flights provided by these companies have been cancelled and are no longer operating,” a message on the company’s website reads.

Monarch acknowledged that the sudden closure was “unprecedented” and left thousands of passengers stranded abroad.

“This is an unprecedented situation and because there are up to 110,000 passengers abroad, the UK Government has asked the CAA to coordinate flights back to the UK for all Monarch customers currently overseas. These new flights will be at no extra cost to you.”

But Monarch’s promise of a free return flight did not extend to non-UK residents visiting Great Britain, or other travelers who had travelled elsewhere abroad with layovers in London on Monarch flights.

Passengers stranded in the UK or elsewhere abroad must now book new flights home – at their own expense.

Israeli travelers stranded in the UK have been offered return flights to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for $159 apiece from Wizz Air.

Hundreds of Israeli travelers are believed to be stranded in the UK. Prior to its collapse, Monarch Airlines operated six weekly flights between Israel and the UK.

Company representatives in Tel Aviv expressed shock at Monarch's abrupt termination of operations.

“We are in shock," one representative told Haaretz. "This is a black morning for all of us. We are trying to figure out what to do with Israeli customers, and who will pay for the alternative flights customers will apparently have to book."

Monarch CEO apologized for the company’s abrupt closure, acknowledging that there would significant disruptions for customers.

“I am so sorry that thousands now face a cancelled holiday or trip, possible delays getting home and huge inconvenience as a result of our failure,” Monarch CEO Andrew Swaffield said. “I am truly sorry that it has ended like this.”

“We are working with the joint administrators and the CAA to do everything we possibly can to help minimise disruption where we can, but are under no illusion as to the problems this will cause.”

In addition to the thousands of passengers already abroad, some 300,000 travelers had booked flights with Monarch which have now been cancelled.

Monarch’s collapse is the largest British airline failure to date.

Some 2,500 Monarch employees were laid off as a result of the closure.

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