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Brindabella lost to country passengers What’s next

Report by The Australian:

Brindabella chief under fire

Tony Abbott disembarks from a Brindabella Airlines plane in Canberra during his time as opposition leader.

Tony Abbott disembarks from a Brindabella Airlines plane in Canberra during his time as opposition leader. Source: News Limited

RECEIVERS for the failed Brindabella Airlines will investigate launching legal action against the chairman of Scotland’s biggest airline to recoup $3 million in employee entitlements.

Brindabella, bought in 2011 by Ian Woodley – who now chairs Scotland’s BMI Regional airlines – owes $3m in leave entitlements and redundancies to 140 employees, receivers KordaMentha said.

The possibility of recovery action comes as BMI Regional has distanced itself from the Brindabella collapse.

A spokeswoman for Sector Aviation Holdings, which owns BMI Regional, said Mr Woodley’s association with Brindabella was a “completely separate business interest” to his role as chairman of BMI Regional.

“There is not, and never has been, any business relationship whatsoever between (BMI Regional) and Brindabella Airlines apart from Mr Woodley being involved with both airlines,” the spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman confirmed Mr Woodley had a “small shareholding” in the privately held Sector Aviation Holdings.

Questions put to Mr Woodley regarding the causes of Brindabella’s collapse, and whether he intended to cover the employee losses, were unanswered.

With Mr Woodley as chairman, Sector Aviation Holdings bought BMI Regional in June 2012.

Mr Woodley had history with BMI Regional, having founded it as Business Air in 1987 before selling it in 1996.

Mr Woodley took control of Brindabella in 2011, after making an unsolicited approach to Jeff Boyd, who had built up the airline over the preceding 17 years in Canberra with his wife, Larissa Corry Boyd.

Under the deal, Brindabella was bought by Business Air Holdings, of which Mr Woodley was the sole director at the time Brindabella collapsed.

According to company records, two of the three major shareholders of Business Air Holdings are British former world motorcycling champions, Roger Burnett and James Toseland.

Mr Burnett, who is now an entrepreneur, is known for his success in the British and World 500cc Championships and Mr Toseland was the World Superbike Champion in 2007 and 2004.

KordaMentha spokesman Michael Smith said that the receivers were preparing to hold a creditors’ meeting to place Brindabella into liquidation.

That was required before employees could apply for compensation under the federal government’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee.

Mr Smith said under corporations law, KordaMentha’s investigations would focus on Brindabella’s director – Mr Woodley – and not its shareholders, Mr Burnett and Mr Toseland.

“It is open to receivers or regulators to take appropriate action if they see fit after investigations have been completed,” Mr Smith said.

Brindabella was swept into receivership on December 15 after aviation regulator the Civil Aviation Safety Authority grounded eight of its 12 planes over safety concerns, because engine inspections had not been performed.

The airline had operated up to 250 flights a week from Canberra to destinations including Brisbane, Coffs Harbour, Moree, Mudgee and Cobar.

Recurring delays and cancellations meant it had become the source of strong community dissatisfaction by the time of its collapse.

Brindabella had operated 12 planes, with eight of those leased.

Mr Smith said KordaMentha had returned those leased planes and had placed the remaining four 30-seater BAE Jetstream 41s on the market.

Also for sale was some associated infrastructure, such as leases on hangars.

A spokesman for NSW Transport said it had received applications from other carriers for Brindabella’s monopoly Moree, Mudgee, Narrabri and Cobar routes.

“We are assessing the suitability of the applications and currently waiting on further correspondence from the respective parties before a decision can be made,” the spokesman told The Australian.

Last month NSW Transport appointed QantasLink as a temporary carrier to operate Brindabella’s former Moree to Sydney route.




The following was published today on pprune:

23rd Dec 2013, 13:54   #185 (permalink)
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From this morning’s news……(December 23, 2013 – 1:37PM)Brindabella Airlines staff retrenched
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