Monarch A330-243 G-EOMA Gemini GJMON797 2007
In the last couple of weeks Monarch has begun a second phase to its transition – it’s dropped its charter and holiday flight operations and moved completely to an Airbus A320/321 fleet operating scheduled flights in Europe along with a couple of soon to be retired 752’s, adopting the easyJet model. The transformation is far from complete, as the process has involved shedding some capacity (sub leasing an air frame to Frontier among others) and their avowed intention is to replace all of the Airbus fleet with 30 737 Max-8 from April 2018. These are seen as a better fit for the type of operations the airline expects to carry out (though one would think easyJet had proved that otherwise). I suspect that the arrival of the 737’s will see a rapid change of livery.
To achieve its aim, Monarch last year disposed of its last A300 – the last one in European airline service as a passenger aircraft. This year it has taken out its A332’s G-SMAN and G-EOMA, which as of last week were parked up at BHX, engines sealed, waiting for disposal to their new owners (as yet unknown). The fleet was to be reduced from 42 to 34 aircraft.
G-EOMA was delivered to Monarch on 26 April 1999, so while far from new, she’s also far from scrap, with another 4-8 years left in her. Both are leased from Guggenheim Aviation Partners.
The current (final livery) was painted on – changes to Monarch tiles, web address and tail from white to yellow), in January 2013. Prior to that in 2007 (the scheme on this model) replaced the delivery scheme, which had itself been modified a few times, mostly in response to internet growth and website address changes.
Why buy it? It just happened to be on eBay for a very reasonable price and its not often seen, something of an opportunistic grab and run that just happened to coincide with her retirement. For once this was something I was also able to witness – my last chance to see both aircraft (the mostly operated out of Manchester and Gatwick) together from the window of Lufthansa 735 as we passed behind them to our gate.
Monarch may not be a big airline but it’s been a British institution (though it was until recently owned by the Swiss based Mantegganza family). it’s effectively been bailed out twice, in 2011 by the previous owners (£75 million) and now by its new investors Greybull Capital (£125 million) who own the majority, in conjunction with Monarch’s pension fund. There isn’t anyone in Britain who wouldn’t want it to continue for many years.
They were fitted with 51 Premium seats and 323 economy in a relatively high density charter format total of 374.
The Gemini A330 mould of this period has looked a little odd to me, the nose seems too short and rounded, and doesn’t have the flat face of the centre flight deck section that merges into the nose. Aeroclassics and JC Wings moulds are different and far more accurate, with Phoenix occupying a half way house between them. More recent Gemini moulds seem to have fixed the flat face panel but they still seem to lack the correct nose curve. It’s a sad day possibly, when I sit there looking at the nose cones of four A332’s from four different manufacturer’s when I should be writing another chapter for my third book, but we all have a hobby!
One of the odd things that strikes me about these older Gemini models is that they seemed tidier, printed, more accurate than the years of the recession when they went to painting things on almost haphazardly at times. These older models and Gemini’s latest have more in common than most of the models from 2008-2014, whose quality in many cases sucks in comparison. Of course there’s no aerials or extraneous detail, but if you’d have given this to me with no knowledge I’d be hard pressed to have ever thought this was made before now. If anything it showcases how bad Gemini became, yet hope abounds they have at last turned a corner.
Gemini’s expertise in colour – the correct shades of yellow and indigo blue (that’s blue Phoenix, not jet black), look excellent and the paint quality is superb for the period, if hardly to clean room standards, with a fair bit of dust in the paint, but not so bad as it really notices.
2) Wings, Underbody & Landing Gear
The wings are of course the loathed cradle system, but these were the days when it’s deficiencies were minimised by a tight fit and excellent quality. Standards that Gemini seem to be returning to. The underwing is way too glossy and to heavily painted, but the above wing is excellent quality paint all round. The Landing gear is rigid, metal (the type Gemini have just started to return to) but the wheels barely turn. The nose gear is high quality and the tyre on a spigot while not beautiful in a any way at least rotates and looks appropriate.
2x RR Trent 772B-60’s power this aircraft. Excellent moulds, excellent paint and excellent detail for the period and age of the model.
4) Tail and stabilisers
This is the one place that doesn’t pass the eyeball test. You can see the tail looks a bit iffy around the joint but its far less annoying than some of the 2012-13 gemini’s that were frequently sub standard. At the time, 2007, this would have been acceptable.
5) Nose detail
The painted detail is good, though the nose I’ve already discussed. Otherwise I have no issues with this model.
I don’t have any issues with colour, they are as they should be.
7) Out of 10…
I tend not to score models of this age, it seems unreasonable to do so when so much time has passed, 8 years old and pre-recession it clearly shows. I really like it to be honest and it was worth every penny of its £15 ($22.50US).