Monarch Airlines Plans 62-Jet Deal by September in Discount Push

Monarch Airlines Ltd. plans to order as many as 62 single-aisle jetliners by the end of September as the U.K. charter carrier seeks to transform itself into a discount operator along the lines of EasyJet Plc.

Monarch is considering both existing and upgraded versions of Airbus SAS and Boeing Co. short-haul models, plus the new CSeries jet from Bombardier Inc., as it mulls fleet renewal and expansion requirements, Finance Director Robert Palmer said.

“We’ve got a lot of options and we’re going to narrow those down over the next couple months before getting to the final bid stage,” Palmer said in an interview. “We have a unique, once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a real decision against whatever is in the marketplace without preference.”

Monarch currently operates a short-haul fleet consisting mainly of Airbus A320 and A321 planes and is looking at the same variants for the pending order, potentially in the re-engined Neo version, Palmer said. It’s also evaluating the corresponding Boeing 737-800 and -900, including the upgraded Max model.

Bombardier’s CSeries offers “amazing” seat costs and could be attractive in a 150-to-160-passenger layout, in which case Monarch would probably opt for a mixed order from the Canadian company and either Airbus or Boeing, Palmer said. The aircraft would be delivered through 2024, according to a statement.

Luton, England-based Monarch has taken delivery of two A320s this year to fulfill short-term needs and will boost its fleet to 39 planes by the end of 2013. Eight aircraft are due to be retired over the next two years, including Boeing 757s.

A handful of Airbus A330 planes will continue to meet the company’s limited wide-body requirements for the foreseeable future, Palmer said.

Monarch boosted its passenger total 5.4 percent to 6.28 million in the year through October 2012. Cost cuts helped the company narrow its adjusted loss before tax to 14.9 million pounds ($23 million) from 51.1 million pounds as it targets a profit this fiscal year, according to the statement.

Revenue rose 10 percent in the six months ended April 30, with yields -- a measure of average prices -- gaining 4 percent.