Monarch says adios to Granada

LAST UPDATED: 19 Dec, 2007 @ 13:07
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Monarch Gatwick to GranadaSecond-home owners threaten to sell up as airline pulls Gatwick-Granada route – Exclusive by Jo Chipchase

USERS of Monarch’s Gatwick-Granada route have been angered at the low-cost airline’s decision to cancel the service.

From November 4, visitors to Granada will have to face a four-hour round commute as Málaga becomes the airline’s sole south of Spain destination from Gatwick.

Many second home owners in the area cannot understand the decision, claiming flights between the two airports were always full.

Some even are threatening to sell up and leave Granada with others promising a total boycott of Monarch.

Amanda Mercer, who bought a three-bedroom townhouse in the Realejo area of Granada earlier this year, told the Olive Press she is now considering selling up.

“I deliberately chose Granada because of the flights between the city and Gatwick. I return to the UK twice a month due to work commitments. I am expecting a baby early next year and do not want to travel to Málaga airport every time I want to fly home.

“With Monarch pulling out of this route, it will make it difficult for me to switch countries. It is tempting to abandon my Spanish house as a result of this bad news.”

Glynis Whittle, who owns property near Alcala la Real, believes the decision will have an adverse effect on the whole area.

“The area to the north of Granada was on the up. Many foreigners were buying property and bringing wealth to the area. Now, I think many will think again before wanting to come here.

“This decision is so short-sighted and has upset many of my friends who live here. Some have told me they are thinking about selling their property,” she said.

The Conservative councillor for Warlingham, Surrey, added she is even considering a boycott of the low-cost airline.

“I was a regular user of this service, flying to Granada about once or twice a month and it was always busy. When I heard the flight was to be cancelled, I complained to the company and told them I would fly British Airways to Málaga from now on.”

When Monarch first took off from London Gatwick for Granada in May 2005, the airline touted the Spanish destination as a “city of culture.”

Within two years, Monarch had stepped up its Granada flights to five a week in response to a 30 per cent rise in passengers going through Gatwick.

The airline claims 62,000 passengers used its Gatwick-Granada route between September 2006-2007.

A spokesman at Granada airport said that flyers between the two airports accounted for 5 per cent of its passenger throughput in 2006. And the Olive Press can reveal that Monarch representatives had met with regional government officials in Granada to express their delight at passenger numbers flying in to the airport from Gatwick – just days before the service was cancelled.

However, a Monarch spokesman told the Olive Press that the route was not “cost effective.”

“Passenger demand on the Granada route has not met expectations and the aircraft [Airbus 320] used to operate these services will accommodate further route developments from Gatwick, which will be announced shortly. Passengers booked to travel after November 4 will be offered alternative flights or a full refund.”

“Low-cost airlines are fickle,”
says Lee Dribben, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association. “They can pull out of routes with only a few weeks’ warning, leaving second home owners and tourists in the lurch.”

9 COMMENTS

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  1. Contrary to the Monarch-speak about an non-viable routing, this announcement coincided with the introduction of two more flights from Murcia and a new route from Jerez. Monarch are used to dipping in and out of airports; it is their modus operandi as ryanair’s is to operate wheer they can get some local toen hal money to support it.

  2. This is a very strange decision by Monarch, in view of the fact that the number of people travelling from the UK to Granada – both visitors and those with homes or holiday homes here – is at an all-time high and still increasing every day. The number of people arriving at Granada airport has more than doubled over the past five years. The Alhambra is now Europe’s second most visited tourist attraction (after the London Eye); the Sierra Nevada ski resort is becoming increasingly popular as a winter sports destination; and Granada is now the No1 choice for British people buying property and coming to live in Spain. Granada needs more, not fewer direct flights to and from London and other major cities in the UK and Ireland. What’s behind Monarch’s decision to abandon Granada? In view of the fact that the termination of this service is going to cause considerable inconvenience and problems for many people (including loyal Monarch customers, some of whom purchased property in Granada on the assumption that the Monarch had made a commitment to maintain and develop this route) AND have a damaging effect on both the property and tourism sectors here, surely it is incumbent upon Monarch to at least give a full and clear explanation as to why and how they reached this decision (their statement that the London-Granada route “did not meet their expectations” would appear to contradict their previous statements regarding the success of this route, as well as being inconsistent with the observation made by hundreds of regular passengers that flights on this route were almost always fully booked. Did Monarch expect passengers to sit on the wings of their planes?). Perhaps the Olive Press could prevail upon Monarch to give a more detailed explanation for their decision to drop the London-Granada service.

  3. I suspect that Monarch have done an under the table deal with Ryan Air and Easy Jet, and that money has changed hands under the table. The flights London-Granada were at least 80% full and sold out for many months ahead. Most people do not want the cattle truck style of Ryan Air, nor do they want to fly to Stanstead, the equivalent of Siberia when you want to reach Central London. I cannot understand this decision if they have not been bought off!

  4. I think it would be mighty foolish of home owners to factor in a low-cost airline’s route structure into their long-term plans – the carriers are notoriously capricious.

    If it’s profitable, and Aena aren’t too greedy with charges, (it’s quite possible Monarch were not able to make it work with their model) then another carrier will be in there like a shot. My guess is Easyjet.

  5. Power to the people! It would indeed appear that – as I suspected – local money is behind all this: From the Granada local rag today (13.11) “La Diputación retoma las negociaciones con Monarch para reanudar los vuelos a Londres desde Granada”. I presume that the whole thing has been a negotiating stick from Monarch or the local authorities to see how much it would cost either to restart the flights. It now seems this has worked.

  6. People need to realize that the era of cheap (carbon based fuel) aviation will soon be over. Its better Granada loses the air link now rather than later when the campo and sierra within a 45 minute drive of the airport is littered with cheap, poorly designed villas built as retirement homes and holiday retreats. Curtailing air pollution is currently a major European Union issue and aviation pollution is currently a mainstream political issue in the UK. This issue is not a passing fad that will disappear as the data is supported by Europe’s top scientists and is starting to be recognized by many main stream politicians. If the increase in price per barrel of crude doesn’t curtail cheap airline growth then political pressure, government legislation and high taxation on aviation fuel may just do it. If the residents of these new developments cannot regularly return to their country of origin cheaply and conveniently then I foresee these numerous, hastily sprung up developments becoming future ghettos, their previous owners long gone and mourning the loss of their dream investment opportunity.

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