Sunday 26 April 2020

Airports blocks Virgin aircraft

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA B737'S            File Photo

Virgin Australia planes have been blocked in with bulldozers on the tarmac at Perth Airport, over claims the company owes a ‘significant’ amount of money to the airport. The measures come after the airline was placed into voluntary administration this week amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Airport staff have blocked a number of planes with vehicles and heavy machinery, to prevent a towbar from being attached to them. This was “standard practice used in these situations”, a Perth Airport spokesperson said, claiming the facility was owed money by the airline. Virgin has significant outstanding invoices from Perth Airport for airfield and terminal use charges – money the airline has already collected from its passengers and the FIFO sector," the airport said in a statement. “While Perth Airport is working with the Virgin administrators, it also needs to protect its own interests." “Perth Airport has taken liens over a number of Virgin aircraft – a standard practice in these situations.” A Virgin Australia spokesperson confirmed to a number of aircraft had restricted access, but that scheduled flights were not impacted. "We are aware that Perth Airport has restricted access to our aircraft and the Administrator is dealing directly with Perth Airport on the matter. There is no impact to scheduled flights."

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA B777 & A330'S           File Photo

Qantas, which is currently locked in its own battle with Perth Airport over airport charges, criticised the move to impound the planes. In a statement, Qantas described the decision as extraordinary behaviour and deeply worrying for all users of Perth Airport. "Protecting your interests is one thing but parking a bulldozer in front of an aircraft while saying you're 'working to secure an agreement' is ridiculous," a statement from the head of external communications Luke Enright said. "It's no way to treat a customer of 20 years. "This kind of action is deeply worrying for all users of Perth Airport." Mr Enright characterised Qantas's dispute, which is currently before the courts, as relating to "excessive" charges and claimed Perth Airport was refusing to negotiate over the use of Terminal 4, something the airport emphatically denies. "They refuse to negotiate and pay up on the terminal they have effectively taken back from us, which is valued at well over $150 million," Mr Enright said.
Adelaide Airport has become the latest Australian airport to seize possession of Virgin Australia aircraft as collateral against outstanding bills. Since being placed into voluntary administration, it has been discovered Virgin Australia owes an estimated 6.8 billion dollars to 12,000 creditors. The South Australian airport claims it is owed 10 million dollars by the airline, and has followed the lead of Perth airport who recently blocked the exit of several parked Virgin jets with airport vehicles. Qantas has again defended Virgin Australia, slamming the behaviour as "ridiculous" and "extraordinary". 

Story sourced from here and

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