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The CAA has granted Monarch a temporary 24 hour extension on its ATOL licence

British holiday carrier in financial crisis.

Britain's Civil Aviation Authority has extended Monarch Airline's ATOL licence by 24 hours whilst it reviews the operators viability.

The news comes as the CAA carries out its review of travel firms covered by the Air Travel Organisers' Licencing scheme (ATOL), which ensures that customers are refunded in the event of a company going out of business.

The operator has seen its fair share of financial difficulties, and required an extension on its licence this time last year for the same reason.

Monarch operates flight-only services and holiday packages - it is the latter that are covered by the CAA scheme.

It is widely expected that if the CAA refuses to issue Monarch with an ATOL licence, its package holiday business will be forced into administration, bringing the airline down with it, and stranding some 10,000 people abroad who are currently on package holidays with the company.

The CAA, as it did last year, is said to be putting into place contingency plans should the company fold.

In a statement, the CAA said; "The ATOL renewal process is on-going and the CAA will conclude the processing of applications from approximately 1300 ATOL holders in the next 24 hours.

"In certain circumstances this could require a temporary extension to complete this process.

"In line with our usual practice, we will not comment on the specifics of any ATOL holder's application until such time as the process has reached a resolution.

"However, we can confirm that ATOL protection will remain available for eligible holiday bookings made with Monarch on Sunday.

"The CAA will provide a daily update with regard to the protection that is available to Monarch's customers."