Airport threat: Aviation giant axes staff, liquidates assets
QUEENSLAND'S major airports are under threat as Australia's largest aviation ground operation company prepares to axe more than 80 per cent of its workers within days and begin liquidating critical airport assets.
Swissport, which provides ground services and cargo handling for the aviation industry at 32 airports across Australia and New Zealand, is now preparing to mothball its operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, The Australian reports.
The move risks crippling the ability of some airlines to take to the air again after the pandemic eases because ground operations are deemed essential for the safety of aircraft, baggage handling and security.
Assets including baggage-loading equipment and aircraft-towing trucks, stairs and container loaders at Queensland airports including Mt Isa, Hamilton Island and Proserpine could be sold.
Equipment at Brisbane, Gold Coast, Cairns, Mackay, Townsville, Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton airports are also understood to be under threat.
The Australian reports Swissport has warned that 2000 of its workers, some highly trained in security protocol, will be made redundant within the next five to 10 days.
Executive vice-president Asia-Pacific Glenn Rutherford says the plight of Virgin Australia has had a knock-on effect on his company with the airline owing several million dollars in unpaid bills.
The Federal Government's $1.2 billion in assistance to the aviation sector has been made available to ground operators.
While the mothballing of the business would have minimal impact while planes are still grounded due to the pandemic, the company said planes across the country could remain grounded indefinitely because ground and flight safety operations would have been shut down across almost the entire regional network, as well as some capital city routes.
Originally published as Airport threat: Aviation giant axes staff, liquidates assets