Queensland Government Announces Bid To Buy Virgin Australia
Queensland has confirmed it will bid for Virgin Australia after the airline went into voluntary administration last month.
The state government's investment in the cash-strapped business could take the form of a direct equity stake, a loan, guarantee or other financial incentives, Treasurer Cameron Dick said on Wednesday.
"My number one focus as treasurer is to retain and create jobs for Queenslanders, particularly as we move beyond the COVID-19 crisis," he said.
"We have been very clear. Two sustainable, national airlines are critical to Australia's economy."
"We have an opportunity to retain not only head office and crew staff in Queensland, but also to grow jobs in the repairs, maintenance, and overhaul sector and support both direct and indirect jobs in our tourism sector."
The airline's headquarters are currently in Brisbane.
Dick also referenced the collapse of former Australian airline Ansett in 2002, saying its demise led to a "punishing increase to the cost of flights".
"This government will not stand by and let that happen again," he said.
In April, the state offered a $200 million lifeline to Virgin Australia prior to the airline entering voluntary administration.
That bid set off a battle of words with political counterparts in NSW.
At the time, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she would consider a bailout for the airline if it moved its headquarters to Sydney.
Dick hit back at the time stating: "NSW might want to bring a peashooter to the fight; we will bring a bazooka and we're not afraid to use it".
On Wednesday, the state confirmed it had appointed global funds management group Queensland Investment Corporation to facilitate and manage the bid.
Virgin Australia went into voluntary administration in April after numerous failed attempts to secure federal funding.
In a statement at the time, the airline said it would continue to operate its scheduled international and domestic flights "which are helping to transport essential workers".
It also said it would maintain important freight corridors.
Chief executive officer Paul Scurrah said the decision to enter voluntary administration was about securing the future of the Virgin Australia Group and emerging on the other side of the Covid-19 crisis.
"In 20 years, the Virgin Australia Group has earned its place as part of the fabric of Australia's tourism industry," he said in a statement in April.
Virgin Australia employs more than 10,000 people, plus another 6,000 indirectly. The airline travels to 41 destinations and provides a gateway to regional communities.
It is reportedly carrying at least $5 billion in debt.