'It's not some grand plan': Mantegazza on changes at Cosmos and Monarch

'It's not some grand plan': Mantegazza on changes at Cosmos and Monarch

Cosmos Holidays celebrates its 50th birthday this year, so what better excuse for its parent company to review its strategy, unveil some significant new ways of working – and then shout about it?

As well as Cosmos, Monarch Holdings also comprises Monarch Airlines, seat supplier Avro and Cosmos Tourama, making it the closest, but still distant, rival to the industry’s big two.

Radical repositioning

Talking about the group’s plans, chairman Fabio Mantegazza, in characteristically modest fashion, said: “It’s not some great big grand plan – we are just trying a number of new little things.”

However, the announcement of a radical repositioning of Cosmos as an online retailer selling all the group’s brands, and other suppliers’ holidays – so it “gets its share of the online space” – can hardly be described as “little”, and should make some sizeable waves in the industry.

Spanish tie-up

And news that the group is to start co-operating through Monarch Scheduled with Spanish airline Air Europa, part of the Spanish travel giant Globalia, is also a pretty big deal sure to cause another stir.

Mantegazza revealed the two airlines are to open some new routes together between Madrid and the UK, codesharing and selling in both markets.

He insisted the new venture was “not big enough to threaten the likes of easyJet and Ryanair”, adding: “We’ve learnt to live with them. But easyJet sells an awful lot in Spain, and if they continue to grow and we do nothing then we won’t get anything.

“And we ought to be able to get something out of that market.”

Scheduled margins

Mantegazza has already identified the airline as the part of the business that it can do more work on to improve its margin. It is doing this partly by moving more capacity from charter to scheduled flying, which is more profitable and gives the group more flexibility.

“Charter isn’t a bad model. But scheduled is growing, whereas charter isn’t, and charter was putting us in a position where we couldn’t be masters of our own destiny.”

The move will enable the carrier to be featured on the GDSs and it has also struck a deal to be distributed via online retailer Expedia.

“We don’t really have a proper relationship with Expedia – that comes of Cosmos being such a traditional business – but we’re hoping it will be turned on very soon, maybe July or August,” he revealed.

“It’s part of our strategy to have our finger in every pie with regards to distribution; we need as many working channels as possible.”

Not only that, Mantegazza now realises he needs to better promote what the group is doing.

‘Time to shout’

“Not many people understand about my family. We’re like the ‘anti-Bransons’: we’re from Switzerland, where discretion was drummed into us at an early age and we wouldn’t shout about anything.

“We also felt if we had a Brit at the helm, we’d be more successful. But that changed during the ash crisis when I had to take control and was accepted.

“We went through a period where we were much too introspective. Now we need to shout about our business – everyone else is. You can have all the zillions in the world, but if you don’t make any noise, it’s worth nothing. People will know that ‘The Quiet Man’ is now here.”

Asked how big he wanted to grow Monarch Holdings, Mantegazza said: “We want to be a size that ensures we make money. We don’t believe that big is beautiful – there’s a limit to the risks that a family business can take, even a wealthy one. But we do believe we can do more.”


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