Ansett deal off
THE future of thousands of Ansett staff is in doubt following the collapse of talks between potential buyers Solomon Lew and Lindsay Fox with administrators last night.
In a statement released at 9am (AEDT), the Fox/Lew syndicate of Tesna confirmed the deal could not be finalised by tomorrow's midnight deadline.
They blamed issues principally related to third parties.
"Discussions have taken place with the administrators concerning options for resolving the outstanding issues and finalising the sale," the statement said.
"In the light of those discussions and in consideration of our advice, we have reluctantly reached the conclusion that the sale agreement is not capable of completion and that the process involving Tesna and the administrators cease."
The Tesna statement said contract requirements for the transfer of domestic terminal leases for Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to Tesna could not be finalised in time.
In addition, serious issues were yet to be resolved, including environmental risk and the use of Ansett's IATA designator code.
Mr Lew and Mr Fox said they had been completely committed to the purchase and, for a range of reasons, "this was now impossible to achieve".
"We have spent the past five months doing little else but working towards the finalisation of the Ansett purchase," they said in the statement.
"We have committed an enormous amount of resources; our professional advisers have worked tirelessly, but the obstacles and hurdles we have encountered from a range of parties have had the effect of consuming both resources and time."
"In all of the circumstances and to our great disappointment, time has run out."
Mr Lew and Mr Fox said their greatest disappointment was for the Ansett employees.
"Ansett's best asset has always been its people - the workers who built the brand and who embody the spirit of Ansett through service, efficiency and character," they said.
"Since September of last year, the people of Ansett and their families have experienced uncertainty but also hope.
"Whatever we feel about the outcome from a personal and business perspective is completely overshadowed by our regard and disappointment for Ansett's people."
ACTU secretary Greg Combet said the collapse means "that where we stand at the moment (there are) absolutely no jobs that can be saved in Ansett. It's a tragedy."
A spokesman for federal Transport Minister John Anderson said the minister's office had not been informed of any problems with the deal.
He said the government had put a great deal of effort into making it work, including support for Ansett Mark II, the Tesna consortium and agreeing to requests from the Ansett administrators.
ACTU president Sharan Burrow was unable to comment this morning.
Reporters at Melbourne airport said Ansett flights were still leaving and arriving, and there had been no changes to the schedule. Ansett staff were still issuing boarding passes.
Staff were still arriving at Ansett's Melbourne headquarters.
Meanwhile, Qantas was drawing up contingency plans to ferry stranded Ansett passengers if the airline's sale did not go through tomorrow and it collapsed.
A Qantas spokesman said the airline had only heard rumours that the sale of the airline was in jeopardy, but he said it should be prepared for the worst.
"We have assumed that Tesna will get up, but if they don't then it's only prudent that we should consider contingency plans," he said.
"It's an extremely busy weekend with the (Australian) Grand Prix anywa