British and Israeli travellers due to fly between the UK and Israel on Monarch planes were this week left grounded ahead of Succot, after the airline went bust and cancelled all flights.
The UK’s fifth largest airline, which filed for administration over the weekend, flew regular flights between the UK and Tel Aviv and its bankruptcy left some Jewish passengers stranded, because not all flights were ATOL-protected.
Worldwide, the airline’s ceased trading with immediate effect left 110,000 customers overseas and 300,000 future bookings cancelled, forcing the Civil Aviation Authority to charter more than 30 flights to bring customers back to the UK.
David Segel, managing director of West End Travel, said on Monday morning that as far as the Jewish community was concerned, the timing could not have been worse.
The experience travel agent, who is well-known to Britain’s Jewish community, said: “Manchester is a mega problem, with so many passengers due to fly to Israel today for the Succot holiday.
“With the EasyJet flight fully booked it seems like many passengers will be stuck at home unless they are prepared at this stage to fork out vast differences in airfare for scheduled flights via Europe.
“It’s not a happy picture, first with Ryan Air problems and now Monarch – it looks like EasyJet are cleaning up – as are the Succah sellers in Manchester!”
Elsewhere, families went online to voice their concerns. George Alexander, a British Jew from Manchester now living in Kfar Saba, said: “My mother is flying to Israel today from Manchester on EasyJet with a return flight with Monarch next Tuesday, so we don’t know how she will get back.”
He added: “She is 86. I don’t know how stressful it is for her and I won’t know until she lands this evening. I haven’t spoken to her today; I have been in email contact with my brother. She’s coming here to see her 13 great grandchildren.”
In London, Kitty and Neville Abraham from Stamford Hill, aged 64 and 70 respectively, were due to spend the week in Israel but were left high and dry with news of the airline’s closure.
“We’d booked to spend Succot in Tel Aviv after finding a really good deal with Monarch,” they said on Monday. “We were all packed and ready to go, but this morning we turned on the news to see the airline had gone into administration, and that it was advising customers not to turn up to the airport.”
The couple said their insurers advised them to contact Monarch, but they couldn’t get through. “We’re so upset that the holiday we’ve been looking forward to has been cancelled at the last minute,” they said. “We’re now making last-minute arrangements for cooking and shopping for a dreary Sukkot in the UK instead of spending it by the sea!”