British leisure carrier Monarch Airlines abruptly ceased operations Monday, leading to a decision by the U.K. Department of Transport to operate its own network of flights over the next two weeks for 110,000 Monarch customers caught abroad.


Monarch and its associated Monarch Travel Group have declared insolvency, pushing them into the European equivalent of bankruptcy.

U.K. transport minister Chris Grayling called the government's plan the largest peacetime repatriation in the history of Britain. The government decided to organize the flights because other airlines don't have sufficient flight capacity to absorb the Monarch ticketholders.

"This is a hugely distressing situation for British holidaymakers abroad -- and my first priority is to help them get back to the U.K.," Grayling said.

Monarch, which had been in business for more than 50 years, primarily serviced Mediterranean destinations from England.

London-based airline industry analyst John Strickland said that Monarch lost out to larger low-cost carriers such as easyJet and Ryanair.

"This was compounded by excess capacity in markets which were important to it such as Spain, putting pressure on yields," Strickland said in an email to Travel Weekly.

Analysts told the BBC that another factor was the weakening British pound in the wake of Brexit.

Virgin Group owner Richard Branson was among those who expressed regret Monday about the demise of Monarch Airlines.

"Sorry to see Monarch go into administration. Brexit among reasons for sad loss of 50-year-old airline," Branson tweeted.

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