On 8 November 2017 the Divisional Court (Gross LJ and Lewis J) gave its decision, following a rolled-up hearing heard over two days, on the application by the administrators of Monarch Airlines for a judicial review of the decision by the UK airport coordinator, Airport Coordination Limited (“ACL”), not to allocate to Monarch (or to reserve) slots for the summer 2018 season. The administrators claimed that Monarch had an accrued right to be allocated slots at four slot coordinated UK airports which it would then be able to sell to other airlines for the benefit of its creditors. In its brief reasons, the Court granted Monarch permission to bring judicial review proceedings, but in dismissing the application held that ACL was not under a duty to allocate the slots to Monarch because any such duty would not accord with the purpose underlying the relevant EU legislation, and because Monarch was no longer eligible to receive slots in circumstances where it had no more than a theoretical possibility of emerging as a going concern or resuming the operation of air services.
As a result of the Court’s decision, the disputed slots at Manchester and Birmingham Airports will revert to the slot pool maintained by ACL for allocation to other airlines. The slots at Gatwick and Luton Airports will remain reserved pending an application for permission to appeal by the administrators to be made after the Court delivers its full judgment.
Several members of Chambers were instructed in this significant public law aviation case, the first decision on the duties of the slot coordinator for nearly twenty years and the first under the current version of the relevant EU legislation.
Bankim Thanki QC (instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer) appeared as lead counsel for Monarch, leading David Allison QC of South Square and Malcolm Birdling of Brick Court Chambers.