There have been various comments in the media about the proposed sale by Monarch’s administrator of the airline’s slots at Gatwick, Luton and elsewhere by means of an auction.  In fact, the question of who actually owns the landing and take-off slots at an airport is complicated and not yet fully settled. 

In any event, although the applicable EU legislation (Regulation 95/93) does not address this explicitly, both the UK High Court and the European Commission accept that the legislation in question permits secondary slot trading between airlines.  

Already a number of airlines are said to be keenly interested in acquiring Monarch’s slots from the airline’s administrator.  This might lead to the more established airlines strengthening further their presence in some of these airports.  This would not normally give rise to any competition law issues: slot trading would not qualify as a merger nor would, in principle, constitute an abuse of dominance.  However, it might strengthen calls for competition authorities to examine the way in which slots are allocated and whether there is in fact a competition law concern here that requires the slot allocation rules to be amended.