Monarch Aircraft Engineering filled much of its base maintenance shortfall created by the October 2017 collapse of Monarch Airlines, with carriers capitalizing on the MRO’s newfound capacity.
The aftermarket provider's airline affiliate Monarch Airlines collapsed on Oct. 2, with Monarch Aircraft Engineering continuing as a standalone business. At the point of closure, the airline was operating a total of 35 aircraft comprised of 25 Airbus A321-200, nine Airbus A320-200s and a single Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
The former Monarch fleet accounted for an estimated 80% of the MRO’s winter maintenance carried out at hangars in Luton and Birmingham and around 50% of its overall output, estimates Chris Dare, managing director of Monarch Aircraft Engineering. “On Oct, 2 we were looking at a winter maintenance program that was empty but from mid-December 2017 through to mid-April 2018 this was full,” he says. “We’ve picked up a large number of new customers while some existing customers made use of our spare capacity."
Virgin Atlantic, Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling and Air Malta were some of the carriers who chose to do this in winter 2017-18. There was also some additional inputs from long-standing cargo airline customers such as DHL Express.
Dare says although he'd have ideally liked more base maintenance work over the winter months, there simply wasn’t the capacity or manpower to do so. Nevertheless, he sees the period as a success considering Monarch's position of uncertainty seven months ago. “From looking like it was going to be a very bleak winter for base maintenance, it’s actually turned into one of our busiest periods albeit we had a slightly later start because of the airline failure," he says.
A reasonable amount of base maintenance work was also carried out with leasing companies on the ex-Monarch fleet as well as providing CAMO services for the same aircraft, which saw Monarch conduct fleet technical management services on its former aircraft.
In a similar fashion to how existing third-party customers chose to take advantage of the spare capacity, Dare says work with the lessors led to additional services being carried out on their behalf.
“We were doing some care and maintenance support for this fleet while it was parked up and this led into Part-21 work, such as design work for operators and leasing companies,” he says. While Monarch hasn’t kept track of its all of its former fleet apart from the aircraft it serviced, Dare says some of the narrowbodies would likely have gone for teardown but the majority would have arrived at new operators.
Having already factored the 2018/2019 winter schedule into its strategy not long after the collapse of Monarch Airlines, Dare says he feels the MRO stabilized quicker than anticipated and next winter’s maintenance schedule is already looking promising.
“There’s interest from new customers looking at slots and the commercial teams have never been busier,” he says. “The capacity closer to home has brought the attention to some of our more local operators who potentially wouldn't have to send their aircraft for ferry flights.”