Charter carrier Monarch has denied that it has run into financial difficulties after bookmakers slashed the odds on it becoming the next airline to go bankrupt.
Paddy Power cut the odds on Monarch being the next airline to go under from 50-1 to 4-1 favourite. This follows a flurry of more than 100 bets on the Luton-based group over the previous week.
The move has shifted Wizz Air into joint second-favourite, alongside Finnair at 11-2.
Paddy Power has issued a press release, entitled “Punters predict Monarch may be dethroned”. It said betting patterns suggested Monarch could be “the first to follow in the footsteps of doomed carrier Flyglobespan”.
The bookmaker’s odds were described as “beyond belief” by Tim Jeans, Monarch managing director. “For people to make a game out of betting when an enterprise that’s been around for 40 years will go bust is irresponsible. It’s not funny either because we employ nearly 3,000 people and they don’t want to be reading this.”
Mr Jeans said his only rationale for the recent bets is that “people don’t have access to our numbers, so they speculate in a vacuum”.
A spokesperson for Paddy Power is told The Times: “Punters seem to have latched on to Monarch in a pattern that echoes betting patterns in the run-up to the demise of XL Airways in September last year.”
Paddy Power said that it would have to pay out about £7,000 if the airline failed.
The airline is owned by the Swiss Mantegazza dynasty, who also control Cosmos, the tour operator.
The most recent accounts for Monarch Holdings, the holding company for the airline and related engineering businesses, show £8.52m operating profits on £813m sales in the year to October 31, 2008. The airline’s turnover was about £550m.
It said that it had launched new routes to Turkey for next summer and had invested almost $1 billion in a fleet of six Boeing 787 Dreamliners.