Monarch suspends use of jets after second scare of summer

Planes owned by a Lithuanian firm were today suspended from use by an airline after one of its jets overshot Birmingham Airport’s runway, in a hair-raising landing for passengers.

Firefighters next to the aircraft which overshot the runway at Birmingham Airport with 135 people on board
Firefighters next to the aircraft which overshot the runway at Birmingham Airport with 135 people on board

The Boeing 737, with 135 people on board, skidded onto grass, when a Monarch flight arrived in Birmingham from Nice, France. The landing left the plane’s nose wheel and main undercarriage buried in mud.

It emerged today that the 25 year-old aircraft, run by Lithuanian operator Aurela Airlines, also broke down in Tenerife in August. An engine fault meant 140 passengers were unable to leave the Spanish island for two days and were instead put up in a hotel while spare parts were sought.

Monarch today confirmed it would suspend its use of the charter firm, using planes from its own fleet instead of leasing.

A statement from the company said: “Monarch apologises to all passengers on-board and is offering them all possible assistance.

“We have suspended the use of Aurela Airlines, who we had been using on a temporary basis to provide extra flights for the late summer period.”

A total of 13 flights were diverted to East Midlands and Luton and eight were cancelled yesterday as the airport suspended all flights for around two hours while emergency services tackled the scene.

All of the passengers on board escaped injury and were able to leave the aircraft on the normal steps.

Francesca Baller, spokeswoman for Birmingham Airport, said the aircraft, the Monarch flight ZB467, had landed at 1.11pm.

She said: “We can confirm the passengers left the aircraft using the steps, there were no injuries and no one was hurt.”

She said the airport was today open and operating normally, but some flight departures may still be subject to delay. Passengers should contact the airline directly for information.