The Queensland government has appointed a state-owned funds management group to manage its bid for a stake in Virgin Airlines.

The airline went into voluntary administration last month following COVID-19 travel bans, but the state government wants to retain the airline and its headquarters based in Brisbane.

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick confirmed on Wednesday the government’s investment could take the form of a direct equity stake, a loan, guarantee or other financial incentives.

He said two sustainable, national airlines are critical in helping to “keep the air fair” and for job prosperity in the state.

“My number one focus as Treasurer is to retain and create jobs for Queenslanders, particularly as we move beyond the COVID-19 crisis,” Mr Dick said in a statement on Wednesday.

“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.

“We saw the punishing increase to the cost of flights after the Ansett collapse, and this government will not stand by and let that happen again.”

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The state-owned management group – Queensland Investment Corporation – will advise government on all aspects of the bid under the direction of chief executive Damien Frawley as part of Project Maroon.

Mr Frawley said on Wednesday the restructure of Virgin Airlines represented a significant opportunity for Queensland.

“We are well-equipped to manage the state’s interest in Virgin Australia Holdings should the consortium be successful,” Mr Frawley said in a statement.

Mr Dick said the airlines’ administrators, Deloitte, are seeking to conclude the sale process by June 2020.

“This is a competitive space, but Queensland is a serious contender and our discussions with the administrators have been making progress,” he said.

AAP

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