British Airways owner IAG secures failed airline Monarch's Gatwick slots

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LONDON (Reuters) - British Airways owner IAG ICAG.L has acquired valuable take-off and landing slots at London's Gatwick airport from failed carrier Monarch Airlines, the latter's administrators said on Monday, beating off competition from other airlines.

The administrators said they were in the process of completing an exchange of Monarch’s slots for others currently held by IAG but did not disclose how much IAG was paying under the swap arrangement to get the more valuable slot times.

“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,” Blair Nimmo, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said in a statement.

IAG said in a statement that “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.”

The agreement comes after Monarch won an appeal last Wednesday to have the right to sell their airport slots even though it was no longer capable of operating any flights, a court ruling which was criticised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which sets guidelines for how slots at busy airports should be allocated and swapped.

EasyJet EZJ.L, Wizz WIZZ.L and Norwegian NWC.OL had also expressed their interest in acquiring Monarch's slots at London's Gatwick and Luton airports, while sources said that travel firm Thomas Cook had also bid for the Gatwick slots.

Monarch’s administrator had estimated its slots could be worth around 60 million pounds although that figure was disputed by some airlines, including easyJet.

Nimmo said that the “continuing focus” of the administrators would now switch to the sale of the Luton slots, as well as other residual assets such as Monarch’s brand.

Reporting by Alistair SmoutEditing by Greg Mahlich