Monarch scraps debit card fees

Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, has abolished the fees it charges passengers for using debit cards to book flights.

In a move that will put pressure on its rivals to follow its lead, Monarch is eliminating debit card fees and introducing a fixed fee for all credit card bookings.

Conrad Clifford, the Chief Executive of Monarch Group, said: “In these difficult economic times, there is absolutely no justification advertising one fare and then stinging consumers with hidden excess charges.

“When I joined Monarch six months ago, the first thing we undertook as a new management team was to examine the way we charged customers for using credit cards.

“The move today is a result of that review process and the new charging structure will go into effect immediately. “

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All customers using debit cards to book Monarch’s scheduled flights will incur no booking fees, whilst customers electing to pay using a credit card will be charged a £10 fee, regardless of the value of the transaction or the number of people travelling.

Mr Clifford said: “The primary purpose of our review of card fees was to provide an upfront, transparent and simple to understand charging policy.”

Monarch is in negotiations with credit card companies to reduce fees further – and has pledged to further reduce the amount it charges customers upon the successful completion of those talks.

“Obviously, we would prefer not have to charge customers for using any payment cards at all.  But by abolishing debit card fees and introducing a flat fee for using credit cards, we are doing everything we can to be transparent and fair to our customers,” Mr Clifford added.

The payment card fee announcement comes as Monarch said that it is to focus on scheduled operations as it unveiled a new brand.

The move towards positioning Monarch as a scheduled airline is a significant shift in strategy for the Monarch Group, which has a long legacy of charter operations.

At the heart of the rebrand is a commitment to transparent and simple pricing and the introduction of Monarch’s “Build your own class” concept of flying.

Customers who are looking for the cheapest possible flight will be able to fly on Monarch, with an allocated seat, for a fare that is competitive against the no-frills carriers. Add-ons, such as hot meals, seats with extra leg room and extra baggage allowance, are offered at point of booking for additional small sums.

The concept will enable Monarch’s passengers to choose the services they want, without being obliged to pay for anything they don’t want.

Monarch, which will continue to operate limited chartered services, will extensively expand its scheduled routes to leisure destinations in Europe and look to grow its existing fleet of aircraft.