Brindabella retrenches staff

BAD NEWS CHRISTMAS 

BRINDABELLA Airlines has joined a long list of defunct regional carriers after any hope the company could be sold was extinguished.

Receivers KordaMentha ann- ounced yesterday it had called off its search for a buyer and the airline’s remaining assets would be liquidated.

The decision saw KordaMentha call a meeting of Brindabella’s 140 workers in Canberra yesterday to tell them all but 12 were retrenched.

The news, delivered just two days before Christmas, comes eight days after Brindabella went into receivership, owing more than $10 million.

A KordaMentha spokesman, Michael Smith, said 12 staff would be kept on for now as a skeleton crew to administer what was left of the company.

“It’s a terrible time for people to get this news, but we thought that they needed to know as soon as the receivers realised a sale was not possible,” he said.

“The entitlements of the employees are OK and they’ll be eligible for entitlements under the federal government’s guarantee scheme now the airline is being liquidated.”

KordaMentha had been in discussions with potential buyers to sell the airline and its exclusive licences to fly in to five country towns, including Moree and Narrabri, as a single package.

But those plans were dashed last Friday when Transport for NSW revoked the licences in order for other carriers to step in and resume flights to the towns.

Mr Smith said attention would now turn to selling the company’s assets, which essentially amounted to just four J-41 jetliners.

The rest of the airline’s fleet, which was grounded by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority amid safety concerns, were leased and have been returned to their owners.

Mr Smith said it was too early to say whether the Tamworth, Narrabri and Moree councils, which are collectively owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, would see any money.

“It’s really hard to say,” he said. “It depends on what the assets realise and we won’t know until they’re sold ... it would be silly to try and speculate.

“That will determine how the other creditors line up but, as you know, with receivership it’s the secured creditor – the bank – that’s first in the queue.”

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