Thought leadership

British Airways owner IAG is buying the prized take-off and landing slots at Gatwick Airport put up for sale by the administrator of collapsed airline Monarch.

The multimillion-pound swoop, first reported by the Press Association, will see IAG secure the ill-fated carrier’s winter and summer slots at Britain’s second-busiest airport.

It is understood IAG had tabled a significant bid, trumping a host of rival airlines eyeing a potential deal for Monarch’s most coveted assets.

Monarch’s slots at Gatwick and Luton are reportedly worth in the region of £60 million, with the most valuable at the West Sussex airport.

Blair Nimmo, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “As well as representing an excellent recovery for creditors from one of Monarch Airline’s significant assets, the clarity that this sale will bring is very positive for other stakeholders such as Gatwick Airport and its customers.

“Our continuing focus is now on MAL’s Luton slots, as well as exploring potential rescue opportunities for MAL and its residual assets including its brand and associated licenses.”

The move comes after IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said last month the group was mulling an approach for the slots to boost its long-haul budget airline Level, which launched in June.

IAG, which also owns Vueling and Aer Lingus, is stepping up its position in the low-cost long-haul market as it looks to fend off fierce competition from the likes of Norwegian Air Shuttle.

A string of airlines had been linked with the runway slots since Monarch’s collapse in September, with easyJet, Norwegian, Wizz Air and Jet2 all understood to have made enquiries.

Administrators KPMG won a court battle to sell the “valuable” slots on Wednesday after overturning a High Court ruling earlier this month.

The collapse of Monarch in October, which was owned by private equity firm Greybull Capital, led to 1,858 workers being made redundant and the flights and holidays of about 860,000 people being cancelled.

Alongside Gatwick, Monarch’s runway slots at Luton Airport are also being auctioned off.

A spokesman for IAG said: “IAG can confirm that it is in the process of completing the acquisition of Monarch’s slot portfolio at Gatwick.

“These slots will be used by the Group’s airlines, primarily British Airways, enabling them to grow their presence at the airport and launch new destinations and add extra frequencies.”

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