No CEO as $90m liability revealed

Administrators for the airline this week met about 100 creditors who were told a Federal Government scheme would cover only part of the 300-plus employees' unpaid wages.
Administrators for the airline this week met about 100 creditors who were told a Federal Government scheme would cover only part of the 300-plus employees' unpaid wages. Brisbane Times

A CREDITORS' meeting has revealed former Bundaberg man and Air Australia owner Michael James owes creditors more than $90 million after the collapse of his airline earlier this month.

But unlike the Philip family of SP Exports, who fronted up to their creditors at a meeting on Wednesday, Mr James was nowhere to be seen.

Administrators for the airline this week met about 100 creditors who were told a Federal Government scheme would cover only part of the 300-plus employees' unpaid wages.

But the situation is much worse for others owed money, with KordaMentha administrator Mark Korda saying the return to other creditors was likely to be nil.

"Our prognosis is the airline is not saleable, but we have had four expressions of interest for the sale of the engineer business," Mr Korda said.

"Because the company leases its buildings, leases its planes, leases its equipment, you don't have a lot of assets.

"There's not a lot to sell."

He estimated $1 million could be made from the assets.

Mr Korda said ANZ, the biggest creditor, was owed more than $20 million.

"There may be some return on (staff's) superannuation but we are not certain yet," he said.

Other creditors included aeroplane lessors, catering companies, cargo companies and spare-parts suppliers.

Mr Korda told creditors the company would most likely go into liquidation.

Air Australia was previously known as Strategic Airlines, but relaunched in November 2011 to cash in on under-serviced routes.

"I think their strategy was to start up a low-cost airline and, in my experience, that is a very difficult undertaking," Mr Korda said.

Thousands of passengers were stranded and even more were left with useless bookings when the airline collapsed this month.

Topics:  air australia, mark korda, michael james



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