NSW flags Virgin bail out if airline meets one condition

 

 

 

 

Cash-strapped Virgin Airlines could be given a multimillion-dollar lifeline from the NSW government - on the condition it moves its headquarters to Western Sydney.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet revealed last night the government has had "significant discussions" with Virgin about providing financial assistance to the ailing airline.

Mr Perrottet said while no decisions have been finalised, the proposed Western Sydney move is "obviously part of the discussions that we're having at the moment".

 

Speaking to Sky News' Sharri Markson last night, Mr Perrottet said the NSW government had a "strong interest" in maintaining a competitive airline industry.

There are concerns that if the airline shuts down due to the COVID-19 crisis, a Qantas monopoly would result in airfare increases.

Asked whether he was considering offering Virgin a cash lifeline, Mr Perrottet said the government had "been in significant discussions over time with Virgin".

"We are still in discussions with them," he said.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has not ruled out a package to help Virgin if they agree to establish their base at the new western Sydney airport. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has not ruled out a package to help Virgin if they agree to establish their base at the new western Sydney airport. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

Any major investment from the state government would be predicated on the basis that the airline, along with subsidiary Tiger, moved to the new aviation hub being built around Western Sydney airport.

"If Virgin were to consider being a tenant in the Aerotropolis in Western Sydney as that second airport comes online, that would be a very positive thing," Mr Perrottet told Markson.

"I raised that with Virgin over time. It's obviously part of the discussions that we're having at the moment."

The federal government has so far rebuffed Virgin's calls for a $1.4 billion bailout. Last week, Scott Morrison said he would not "get in the way of a commercial resolution to this".

But Mr Perrottet last night argued it would not be "uncommon" for government intervention because of the circumstances.

"It's not like you're propping up a company that's failed because of poor financial management.

"It has struggled due to the pandemic, and through issues outside of their control through government orders that have been put in place."

Virgin check-in terminals have sat empty across the country for weeks now. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning
Virgin check-in terminals have sat empty across the country for weeks now. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning

He said governments had a "much greater interest" in ensuring a competitive airline industry.

No decisions have yet been made, with the NSW Treasurer saying a proposal would need to go to cabinet.

"Any decision would need to be in the best interests of the taxpayers of our state," he said.

The move comes after Queensland offered Virgin a partial $200 million lifeline, on the condition it restructured its debt, continued regional flights and kept its headquarters in Brisbane.

Originally published as NSW flags Virgin bail out if airline meets one condition



How police found 54kg of cannabis in car boot

Premium Content How police found 54kg of cannabis in car boot

ONE of the men charged over the offence has pleaded guilty.

‘There will be grass fires’: region urged to be prepared

‘There will be grass fires’: region urged to be prepared

THE devastation of last summer’s bushfires have not erased all threat of...

Fires still contained within properties as winds ease

Fires still contained within properties as winds ease

STRONG winds late in the week had whipped up permitted, smouldering, burns in the...