Cumbrian mum among those hit by Monarch collapse

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A Cumbrian mum is among those set to lose out after the collapse of Monarch Airlines.

Emma Wallbank, of Wigton, was due to fly out to Malaga with her mum and two children on October 17.

But, following the announcement that the airline had gone bust, she has been forced to cancel their trip.

Meanwhile a Cumbrian travel firm has been pulling out all the stops to help those affected by the collapse.

It emerged yesterday morning that the company had gone bust, leaving thousands of flights cancelled and holidays ruined.

A total of about future 300,000 bookings have been cancelled and will not be rescheduled, while efforts are underway to return 110,000 Monarch customers currently abroad, back to the UK.

Exactly who gets a refund depends on how they booked their holiday and whether it was properly protected or insured.

Miss Wallbank booked her trip through Expedia, paying for the flights and accommodation separately.

She is still trying to find out whether her insurance will reimburse the cost, or whether she may be covered on her credit card.

She said she did look at whether she could book different flights, but the price had rocketed. Miss Wallbank has decided to cancel and rebook for early next year, once she knows if she will be reimbursed.

"I've checked other flights and they were more than I paid for the whole holiday," she told the News & Star.

"I paid on my credit card so I'm calling them to see about claiming the money back, but I'm not sure if Expedia will refund the money for the hotel. I did buy extra insurance so I hope so."

The holiday was for a week with her children, aged nine and six.

"I haven't told the kids yet, they'll be devastated," she added.

Nationally, travel agents spent yesterday fielding calls from worried holidaymakers about their individual trips.

Paul Cusack, of Cockermouth Travel said they have been working through all of their clients to see what can be done.

He said they rarely used Monarch Airlines directly, but some of their trips were booked through operators that use their flights.

He said they had already dealt with dozens of bookings, advising customers what to do in order to save their holiday, and had a list of more than 150 others they were checking to see if they were affected.

Monarch is the biggest UK airline ever to cease trading.

The Government said it had ordered the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to charter more than 30 aircraft to bring holidaying Brits back to the UK, describing it as the "biggest ever peacetime repatriation".

Mr Cusack said none of their clients were abroad when the announcement was made, but some were due to fly soon.

"We have already sorted the ones due to travel up to the end of October. We have been advising people to book an alternative flight straightaway as the prices will only go up," he said.

Monarch Airlines flights had flown out of several UK airports, including Manchester. Mr Cusack said popular destinations included Malaga, Alicante, Majorca and the Canary Islands.

He added that most people will receive a refund via the Atol protection scheme if they booked via a tour operator or travel agents. However he said some would be left out of pocket - they will need to try and claim on their insurance or through their credit card company.

"People packaging their own holidays is a big thing these days, particularly at the cheaper end of the market," he said.

Mr Cusack said he was not completely surprised by Monarch's collapse - the company had been badly affected by the drop in popularity of some of its key destinations, like Tunisia and Turkey.

"We didn't really use them a lot because that was always at the back of your mind. The great thing for customers is that everything that we book for them is protected, so they will get a full refund," he said.

"Rather than waiting for operators to call us, we have been working out which bookings are affected and checking for alternatives."

He said he hoped all of their affected customers would still get their holiday, even if the details had to change slightly.

Tim Greening, of Keswick-based KE Adventure Travel, said only a handful of their clients were affected.

"We are one of the lucky ones. We hardly use Monarch. Those who were affected are all re-booked with other flights already," he explained.

The Brampton-based Travel Team also said it was barely affected.

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