In October 2017, British leisure carrier Monarch made an unfortunate piece of history when it became the largest-ever UK airline to fold. It had been in existence for nearly half a century, operating a myriad of both narrowbody and widebody aircraft. But what became of the planes that were in Monarch’s fleet at the time of its collapse?
Most popular – the Airbus A321
Monarch Airlines ceased operations in October 2017. This left thousands of passengers stranded, and rendered its fleet of narrowbody aircraft redundant. The most numerous aircraft type among its remaining fleet was the stretched-fuselage Airbus A321.
According to Planespotters.net, Monarch had 25 of these twinjets at the time. In the short term, its A321s returned to the following aircraft leasing companies.
- AerGen Leasing
- Apollo Aviation
- Archway Aviation
- Aviation Capital Group (ACG
- Jackson Square Aviation (JSA)
Of course, these lessors have since found other customers for the ex-Monarch A321s. You can now find these at a myriad of carriers. To name but a few, the extensive list includes Aegean, Avion Express Malta, Just Us Air, Lanmei Airlines, Olympus Airways, Red Wings, Sky Cana, Ural Airlines, Viva Aerobus, and Windrose Airlines.
The fates of Monarch’s A320s
As far as the Airbus A320 is concerned, there were 10 of these aircraft in Monarch’s fleet when it collapsed. These mainly returned to lessors like ALC, Aviation Capital, Apollo, Avolon, DVB Bank, Investec, SMBC Aviation Capital, and WNG Capital LLC. They have since been re-leased to various airlines, such as Azul, easyJet, Ellinair, Iberia, and SunExpress.
A couple of Monarch’s A320s went straight on to other airlines. For example, Planespotters.net reports that YL-LCP returned to SmartLynx after Monarch collapsed. It had only been there since May 2017 on a seasonal lease, and hadn’t even changed its Latvian registration.
Meanwhile, G-ZBAR joined Thomas Cook Airlines Balearics after leaving Monarch. This carrier declared insolvency in December 2019, shortly after its parent company Thomas Cook collapsed. The 17-year-old aircraft now flies for Condor as D-AICP.
Finally, one aircraft, namely G-ZBAP, was scrapped after leaving Monarch. This plane was initially stored in the Netherlands at Woensdrecht Air Base between October and December 2017. It then moved to St Athan in Wales, where it was broken up the following July.
A single Boeing 737
The Airbus A320 family dominated the Monarch fleet in October 2017. However, this design was not quite ubiquitous when the British leisure carrier folded. Indeed, it was also operating a single aircraft from the A320’s US competitor, the Boeing 737 family.
According to Planespotters.net, this was a Boeing 737-800 which bore the registration G-ZBAV. It originally flew for Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines from June 2010 before joining Monarch in May 2017. Interestingly, it had a 186-seat configuration at Monarch, compared to 189 seats at Pegasus, where it presumably had an extra half a row.
After Monarch’s collapse less than five months after G-ZBAV’s arrival, the aircraft returned to its lessor, Air Lease Corporation. The following summer, it was back in action with Russian leisure carrier Nordwind Airlines. It has remained there ever since with a 189-seat configuration and the registration VP-BSO. It is one of 12 737-800s in Nordwind’s fleet.
Did you ever fly with Monarch Airlines? What are your memories of the former British leisure carrier? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.