In its Virgin bid the Queensland Government could argue it’s learnt a thing or two about running an airline that costs more than it should, says Steven Wardill.
In its Virgin bid the Queensland Government could argue it’s learnt a thing or two about running an airline that costs more than it should, says Steven Wardill.

Government has experience losing money on airlines

OPINION

IT'S not without irony that the state Labor administration will bid for Virgin Airlines while the Government's own jets have sat grounded for months with maintenance issues, and it cannot afford to replace them.

This is "Project Maroon", as new Treasurer Cameron Dick has dubbed it, brought to you by the folks overseeing Project Marooned.

Maybe the Government could argue that it's well placed to buy beleaguered Queensland-based Virgin because it's learnt a thing or two about running an airline that costs more than it should.

At 14 years of age, the pride of the Government's fleet, the plush Hawker 850XP, is four years older than its predecessor was when it was replaced.

And because it's been beset with problems, the Government has had to resort to the costly exercise of leasing other planes, flying commercial or not flying at all.

The Government concluded some time ago that plonking $20 million or more on the state credit card to buy a new jet in the months before an election probably wouldn't be the brightest of ideas.

However why it thinks it should now by an airline in administration with a whole fleet of grounded planes and how it thinks it can afford this hasn't been particularly well explained.

Clearly, the Government doesn't want Virgin and its 5000-odd Queensland staff to fly south, given its mantra about job creation and the impact this would have on the economy.

And having Queensland Investment Corporation manage the process at least gives the bid a bit of credibility, although QIC is not yet committing its own cash.

But after running its own little airline into the ground, the Government might want to think twice before buying another.

Project Maroon could be a big blue.

One of the Queensland Government jets
One of the Queensland Government jets

Originally published as Government has experience losing money on airlines


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