Sunday 19 November 2017

Airline can't sell 'valuable' landing slots

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'"There is no more than a theoretical possibility of Monarch emerging as a going concern or resuming the operation of air services," Gross told the court.'

Alistair Smout

Failed airline Monarch does not have the right to sell its airport takeoff and landing slots, potentially the most valuable remaining part of the business, a court in London ruled on Wednesday, in a blow to administrators seeking to recoup money.

The High Court rejected Monarch's claim that it must be allocated slots for the summer 2018 schedule and said the airline's slots will be placed into a pool for allocation.

Administrators at KPMG had sought a judicial review to establish if they had the right to sell airport slots, reportedly worth £60m.

Judge Peter Gross dismissed their claim, saying that as Monarch was no longer flying and was unlikely to do so in the future, Airport Coordination Limited (ACL) had no duty to assign them slots.

"There is no more than a theoretical possibility of Monarch emerging as a going concern or resuming the operation of air services," Gross told the court.

Lawyers for Monarch sought permission to appeal the ruling. Gross said a decision on whether to grant an appeal would be adjourned until the full judgement was written.

British Airways owner IAG, easyJet, Norwegian and Wizz Air have all expressed interest in acquiring Monarch's slots, especially at London's Gatwick and Luton airports.

The court's ruling means that the slots will go into the pool, and they will be assigned by ACL. A slot-allocation conference began on Wednesday in Madrid.

Judge Gross also said he intended to grant a stay on the ruling until 4pm on November 17 with regards to the slots at Luton and Gatwick. There was no stay given for the ruling on Monarch's Manchester and Birmingham slots.

The sudden collapse of Monarch last month meant that over 100,000 holidaymakers needed repatriation by British authorities.

(Reuters)

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