KPMG, the administrator of doomed airline Monarch, has vowed to fight on after today losing a legal battle to sell take-off and landing slots believed to be worth as much as £60m.
High Court judges this morning supported an earlier decision by Airport Coordination Limited – an independent slot coordinator – that the airline did not have the rights to the assets.
Joint administrator Blair Nimmo said he was "disappointed" with court's decision and will appeal the ruling "as a matter of urgency".
Today's judgement will come as a blow to Monarch's creditors, which include former owners Greybull, which were banking on KPMG monetising the slots.
With many of Monarch's other assets – such as the planes it used – leased, today's ruling leaves KPMG with a challenge to realise any significant value for creditors, which also include the firm's pension fund by way of a £7.5m loan note issued by the airline.
Read more: Greybull makes Monarch profit promise
ACL said it welcomed the court ruling and the order that Monarch pays for its costs defending the claim.
In a statement, the coordinator said: “ACL had intended to await the conclusion of the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s proceedings to revoke Monarch’s operating licence, upon which any entitlement Monarch had to slots would have fallen away. However, it has become clear, as confirmed by the Court today, that Monarch has ceased to be an air transport undertaking and has no realistic prospect of resuming operations as such. Accordingly, it is not eligible to hold slots under the Slots Regulation in any event.”
Monarch's failure at the start of October was the largest of any UK airline. With 110,000 customers stranded overseas, the government and aviation authorities sprung to the rescue, launching Britain's biggest peacetime repatriation.
The cost of flying Monarch customers home has been estimated at £60m. Following comments from transport secretary Chris Grayling, Greybull has promised to repay any profits it generates from the administration in order to contribute towards the bill paid by the UK taxpayer.