by Bradley Gerrard, The Telegraph, November 29, 2017
Low-cost airline Wizz Air has secured all the take-off and landing slots at Luton airport which belonged to defunct rival Monarch.
The Hungary-based carrier strengthened its position at Luton last month when it formally launched a base there, adding four aircraft to its sole plane at the airport and announcing 30 additional flights each week.
Now it has secured these slots, it will add more flights, to take advantage of the dip in the airline industry's capacity due to the demise of Monarch, Air Berlin and Alitalia.
It said in a statement on Wednesday that, following the purchase, it would increase its fleet at Luton by two aircraft, meaning it will have seven aircraft at the airport and increasing its capacity by 18pc.
"For Wizz Air's customers, this means more than 10,000 additional low fare seats available on 28 new additional flights departing every week from London Luton airport," it added.
The additional routes would be announced in due course, Wizz said.
The sale comes just days after British Airways owner IAG secured the bulk of Monarch’s slots at Gatwick airport and marks the last of the Monarch slots to be sold. It means administrators for the fallen carrier KPMG will recoup some cash for creditors from the airline’s demise.
A report issued by KPMG last week showed Monarch had £466m of unsecured debt owed to passengers and businesses which will not be repaid. It also has £164m of secured debt which includes money owed to former owners Greybull Capital as well as the Pension Protection Fund which took £7.5m worth of loan notes as part of Monarch’s 2014 restructuring.
Wizz has been moving to shore up its Brexit defences in recent weeks after it announced its UK subsidiary had applied for an air operator’s certificate, known as an AOC, as well as an operating licence from the Civil Aviation Authority.
It said it expected Wizz Air UK to start flying in March 2018 with several UK-registered aircraft. This move could help ensure the carrier can keep flying post-Brexit in the event a formal aviation deal has not been agreed.
Several other airlines have been making similar moves by applying for AOCs in European countries to protect their intra-European flying rights regardless of the Brexit outcome. This includes easyJet, which recently secured an Austrian AOC alongside its existing UK and Swiss licenses.
KPMG declined to comment.