by Bradley Gerrard, The Telegraph, November 8, 2017
Defunct carrier Monarch Airlines is seeking to appeal a High Court decision to strip it of the lucrative airport slots its administrators were hoping to sell for tens of millions of pounds.
The High Court's Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Lewis rejected Monarch's claim that it had the right to resell its slots, ruling instead that Airport Coordination Limited, which oversees the reallocation of airport berths, could offer them to new bidders.
The judges said that ACL was under no obligation "to allocate summer 2018 slots to Monarch by reason of historical precedence (grandfather rights)”.
The decision is a blow for the airline's former owner Greybull Capital, which would have been in line to receive some of the proceeds from take-off and landing slot sales at various airports, most notably those at Gatwick, which have been valued at up to £60m.
Monarch's slots at Manchester airport are set to go into a pool for rival airlines to bid for in the coming week.
However the airline's lawyers managed to argue for a stay on a decision about its slots at Gatwick and Luton airports.
This means Monarch’s administrators KPMG have until November 17 to seek permission to appeal.
Blair Nimmo, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: "We are disappointed with today's ruling and will be seeking leave to appeal as a matter of urgency."
Manchester Airports Group had been what is called in legal terms an intervener in the case and had pushed for its slots to be released as soon as possible.
Tim Hawkins, corporate affairs director at MAG, said: “Today's judgement recognises just how important it is for Monarch's runway slots to be reallocated quickly so that other airlines can operate new services at Manchester Airport next year to replace those that have been lost.
Greybull, which bought Monarch in 2014, had pledged to donate some of the cash it received from the sales to help cover the cost of the repatriation of some 85,000 passengers stranded by Monarch's collapse, which was carried out by the Civil Aviation Authority.
The Government is also understood to be trying to recoup some of the money it spent on getting Monarch customers home.
Wizz Air chief executive József Váradi said today he had a “profound interest” in Monarch's slots at Luton airport, where it based four aircraft.
The comments came as Wizz posted a 14pc rise in pre-tax profits to €300m (£265.8m) for the six months to September 30. The robust performance was helped by a near-25pc rise in revenue to €1.14bn, powered by a steep 30pc jump in non-ticket revenue from food and drink as well as services such as car hire.