Deal close on Sydney airport lease
By LEONIE WOOD and DARREN GOODSIR
Friday 8 February 2002
Ansett's administrators are expected to sign a deal with the Sydney Airport Corporation this morning to secure the terminal lease for the airline's new owners, clearing a major hurdle in their efforts to wrap up the sale.
This should lead to a cascade of deals with the 13 other domestic terminals.
The breakthrough came as Lindsay Fox and Solomon Lew, who control the Tesna consortium buying Ansett, flew to Europe to lock in key investors, secure aircraft and finalise a deal with the Star Alliance network of carriers.
It also follows a week of tension after the administrators revealed operating losses this month of about $26 million, much higher than the $15million to $20 million in losses chalked up in the four months since the airline collapsed.
The administrators have asked the Federal Court to sanction their decision to continue trading while they finalise the sale but their application hit several hurdles yesterday. The delay has angered unions, which fear that the existing pool of money to be distributed to creditors could be eroded, jeopardising the full repayment of hundreds of millions of dollars owed to employees.
Earlier yesterday, federal Treasurer Peter Costello said the Federal Government, as Sydney Airport's owner, wanted to know the terms and conditions of the proposed lease to Tesna, but he said the government wanted the sale to proceed.
"I think it would be best for the employees, best for competition, best for everybody concerned, probably best for the creditors if the deal goes ahead, and I very much hope that it does," Mr Costello told ABC radio.
But he also threw a curve ball to Tesna, saying he hoped that "the private-sector consortium can put some more money in and operate a good airline".
Opposition Leader Simon Crean said the government must ensure that issues between Tesna and the Sydney Airport Corporation were resolved.
Until yesterday, the Sydney negotiations had become mired in disputes about performance bonds and other securities, claims of insufficient documentation and demands for access by other airlines to the terminal. Sydney Airport also wanted Tesna to provide information about a charge over the terminal granted to the ACTU to secure about $100 million in employee entitlements.
Discussions were to resume this morning, and sources indicated a deal was imminent. Final documentation is due next week.
Some headway has also been made in talks on the transfer of licences over IT software and hardware and the necessary approvals from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, including the Air Operator Certificate.
Any news on what deal did F/L sign with Star Alliance??