Trucks and other runway items are being used to block Virgin Australia planes at Perth Airport. (ABC News)
Perth Airport is using heavy machinery and company vehicles to block a number of Virgin Australia aircraft from taking off over what it says are significant unpaid debts.
- Perth Airport says Virgin owes money for airfield and terminal use
- It is not clear how many planes are being prevented from taking off
- The airport says this is a standard practice in these situations
In a statement, the airport said while it was working with the airline to get through the coronavirus crisis, it had to protect its own interests.
Perth Airport says the debt-laden airline owes it $16 million in outstanding invoices for airfield and terminal use charges.
The airport has taken the planes as security, or what is known as a lien, on the debt.
Footage and images from the airport show a bulldozer and airport cars blocking planes on the tarmac.
Perth Airport said this was standard practice.
“Maintaining a two-airline system in Australia post-COVID-19 is absolutely essential for the aviation and tourism sectors, and the broader economy,” a spokeswoman from Perth Airport said.
“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 [fly-in, fly-out] sector.
“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.”
Current flights will not be affected
The spokeswoman said no flights would be impacted.
“The aircraft affected are not being used for current FIFO or interstate operations and have been parked at Perth Airport for some time now,” she said.
“There will be zero impact on the state’s resources sector.
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“At this point in time, we continue to facilitate Virgin’s FIFO flights through T2 [Terminal 2] while we try to secure an agreement with the administrators.
“Virgin continue to fly around 180 flights a week through Terminal 2.”
Virgin Australia — which went into voluntary administration this week — said it was aware of the situation and was working with the airport.
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