The government’s Brexit uncertainty and failure to intervene contributed to Monarch going into administration, Britain’s largest union, Unite said today.
Accusing the government of ‘sitting on its hands’, Unite urged the government to step in to assist one of the UK’s oldest airlines and provide clarity for the UK’s aviation industry by urgently reaching an ‘open skies’ agreement with the European Union.
Unite, which represents around 1,800 engineers and cabin crew working for Monarch, understands that potential investors and buyers were deterred by the continuing uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
An agreement securing current freedoms for UK airlines to fly in Europe and beyond is yet to be reached in Brexit negotiations. With airlines selling flights a year in advance, an open skies agreement needs to be in place by March 2018 ahead of the UK’s exit from the European Union in March 2019.
Unite also understands that government ministers rebuffed requests by Monarch to provide a bridging loan, charged at commercial rates, to tide the company over while it restructures the business to focus on its long-haul operations.
Such assistance is not without precedent and was recently given by the German government to Air Berlin.
Commenting Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said:
“Monarch’s workforce has worked tirelessly and loyally, with great sacrifice, to try and turn the airline around in the last year.
“Their hard work has been undone by a government seemingly content to sit on its hands and allow one of the UK’s oldest airlines go into administration.
“There were a number of factors that impacted negatively on the company, however continuing uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the ability of UK airlines to fly freely in Europe after the UK has left the EU, undoubtedly hindered Monarch getting the investment it needed to restructure and survive.
“This uncertainty combined with the apparent unwillingness of the government to assist at commercial rates and at a profit to the taxpayer has left thousands of jobs at a great British airline hanging by a thread.
“Now is not the time for government ministers to wash their hands of a problem they have contributed to. Ministers need to act fast by intervening in a similar way as their German counterparts did with Air Berlin and help secure a future for Monarch.
“The government must also secure the current freedoms to fly that UK airlines enjoy in Brexit negotiations as a matter of urgency to stabilize confidence in the airline industry.
“In the meantime, Unite will be working day and night to support and assist our members at Monarch through this deeply upsetting and unsettling time.”