What Happened To Bankrupt Monarch Airline’s Fleet?

It may seem like a distant memory now, but the UK’s Monarch Airlines was once a sizeable carrier. When it collapsed in the early morning of 2nd October 2017, it was the largest UK airline to ever cease trading with immediate effect, leaving 110,000 passengers stranded overseas. Monarch had a total of 35 aircraft in its fleet when it ceased trading, but what happened to them?

A Monarch Airlines Boeing 757
Monarch Airlines experienced a slow decline from its heyday. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

Monarch operated as a low-cost carrier, serving destinations solely within Europe at the time of its collapse. The only exceptions were its flights to Eilat and Tel Aviv in Israel, the latter of which also happened to be the airline’s final flight.

Passengers aboard the Monarch Airbus A320 operating flight ZB3785 landed in Manchester at 03:19 GMT. They were the last passengers to ever fly on a commercial Monarch Airlines flight.

Although the registration of the individual aircraft which flew the final flight is unclear, a look at Monarch’s fleet data on Airfleets reveals the long and varied list of new owners its aircraft moved on to.

Monarch’s Airbus A320s

The Airbus A320 didn’t make up the bulk of Monarch’s final fleet in its final days, but it still had 9 in operation. All of Monarch’s Airbus A320s, bar one, were previously operated by other airlines before being bought by Monarch.

Of these second-hand Airbus A320s, all, bar one, were A320-214s. The other aircraft was an A320-232 which Monarch leased from SmartLynx, a Latvian charter airline which specializes in wet-leasing.

A Monarch Airlines Airbus A320
Four of Monarch’s A320s were under five years old at the time of its collapse. Photo: Transport Pixels via Flickr

The remaining second-hand A320-214s moved on to a number of different aircraft leasing companies, including AerCap, Investec, SMBC Apollo Aviation, Dvb Bank and Wng Capital. From these leasers, the ex-Monarch Airbus A320s operated flights for a number of different airlines, including Iberia, easyJet, Thomas Cook, Ellinair, Avion Express and Azul Linhas Aereas.

The one A320 which Monarch had bought new in 2015, registered G-ZBAS, was quickly snapped up by Air Lease Corporation, entering service with easyJet in February 2018.

Monarch’s Airbus A321s

As the mainstay of the Monarch Airlines fleet, the airline’s Airbus A321-231s moved far and wide after its collapse. The four Airbus A321s Monarch had purchased new in 2013 and 2014 went into service with Monarch’s UK rival Thomas Cook, through leaser Aviation Capital Group.

In a similar story to Monarch’s older Airbus A320s, its older A321s also went to a scattered selection of leasers across the world.

A Monarch Airlines Airbus A321
The Airbus A321 was the most common aircraft in Monarch’s fleet when it collapsed. Photo: Tony Hisgett via Flickr

The majority of these Airbus A321s were bought new by Monarch Airlines back in the early 2000s. Three of them were leased to Ural Airways by Archway Aviation, two were leased to Red Wings Airlines by Avolon and two more went to Olympus Airways.

The oldest second-hand A321s went to an assortment of small operators, including Small Planet Airlines of Poland, Just Us Air, Windrose Aviation and Aegean Air through a lease from Castlelake.

The pattern among the ex-Monarch Airlines aircraft

While the ex-Monarch A320s and A321s were spread far and wide following the airline’s collapse, there is a pattern in their moves.

As expected, the newest aircraft were snapped up first. Aircraft purchased new by Monarch Airlines were also more valuable than those purchased second hand.

Did you fly on Monarch before its collapse? Do you miss the yellow and black planes? Let us know in the comments.