Holidaymakers have told of the “chaos” at airports in the wake of the collapse of Monarch Airlines.
Passengers, many unaware that the budget airline had gone into administration overnight, turned up at the airport expecting to board flights.
Monarch cancelled all flights – and future holidays – leaving many in tears.
Hundreds turned up at Manchester Airport this morning and had to be turned away.
Around 110,000 passengers were stranded overseas and one of them, Helen Healey, 52, of Mirfield , had to queue at Alicante Airport in Spain after her Monarch flight back to Manchester was cancelled.
Helen, who had been on a short break to Benidorm with friends, said: “I was due to fly at 11.45am but my friend got an e-mail at 7.15am to say all flights had been cancelled and we should check the website.
“It was absolute chaos at Alicante. Nobody knew what was happening and people were panicking.”
Helen, who was flying back on her own, queued with Iberia airlines and secured a flight with Spanish charter airline Evelop.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it has been asked by the Government to charter more than 30 aircraft to bring the passengers back to the UK, the biggest peacetime repatriation operation.
CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said: “We know that Monarch’s decision to stop trading will be very distressing for all of its customers and employees.
“This is the biggest UK airline ever to cease trading, so the Government has asked the CAA to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the UK at the end of their holiday at no extra cost to them.
“We are putting together, at very short notice and for a period of two weeks, what is effectively one of the UK’s largest airlines to manage this task.
“The scale and challenge of this operation means that some disruption is inevitable. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring everyone home.”