Sydney Airport blames Ansett for terminal transfer delay

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Sydney Airports Corp (SACL) says it will not transfer the Ansett Australia terminal lease to the prospective new owners of the failed carrier until it receives detailed information necessary to complete due diligence and ensure that financial and environmental liabilities can be met.

Earlier overtures to Ansett’s administrators requesting financial information and offering interim arrangements allowing Ansett to operate from the terminal from 31 January drew little response, says SACL in a statement. Ansett is in the process of being acquired by a group called Tesna that is controlled by two Melbourne businessmen.

“We are keen to see Tesna begin operations in a timely manner. Sydney Airport is not holding back the airline’s operations. There are key issues outstanding and the ball is in the administrator and Tesna’s court to finalise their position and get back to us for resolution,” says SACL CEO Tony Stuart.

In a brief statement, Ansett administrators from financial services company Andersen say they have provided all information required under the current terminal lease. Encouragingly, however, both sides appear to be getting down to business.

“A lot of progress has been made in the last four days and it is regrettable that this could not have been undertaken earlier. SACL could have completed the assignment of the lease by 31 January had Andersens and Tesna come to the table to talk about the substantive terms of assignment before 17 January,” says Stuart.

Apart from financial and environmental issues, SACL wants to ensure spare capacity at the terminal can be used by other airlines in line with the Corporation’s stated policy to promote competition.

SACL also wants “performance security” over liabilities such as charges and rents, which it says is being given to other Ansett creditors.

Ansett’s sale to the Tesna consortium, approved on 29 January by creditors, will not go through if the terminal lease is not secured.

The carrier collapsed in mid September after mounting losses forced its parent Air New Zealand to abandon its struggling Australian subsidiary.