Greybull Capital, the hedge fund owners of defunct Monarch Airlines have asked for a judicial review of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)’s decision to strip the airline of its landing slots, estimated to be worth around £60 million.
When Monarch abruptly ceased trading in October 2017, it left 110,000 holidaymakers stranded overseas forcing the CAA to charter a fleet of 30 aircraft – mostly from Qatar Airways – to launch the largest repatriation of UK citizens in peace-time.
Monarch was Europe’s 10th largest airline and its demise has followed other notable closures like Air Berlin and the struggling Italain airline, Alitalia.
Airport Coordination Limited, the independent company charged with managing slots at UK airports has reported an intense bidding war at Gatwick Airport where British Airways, EasyJet and other airlines like Norwegian & Vueling seeing this as a once in a generation opportunity to dramatically expand their operations at this airport practically operating at full-capacity.
Airlines regularly “horse-trade” slots between each other, but this is the first time that their right to do so has been challenged. The CAA’s argument is that since Monarch has lost its operating licence, the slots return to the public domain and that its rights to trade the slots expired along with the operating licence.
The estimated cost of the UK repatriation operation : £60 million. A figure remarkably similar to the value of the slots.
Image credit : Carlos Puigdemont 2017