Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Air Freight Plans Are Up in the Air; Businessman Says He's Been Treated Appallingly

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Air Freight Plans Are Up in the Air; Businessman Says He's Been Treated Appallingly

Article excerpt



A BUSINESSMAN who wants to build a dedicated, common-user domestic and international airfreight operation at Sunshine Coast Airport, projected to employ 21 people within two years, claims to have been thwarted in his attempts to secure a long-term lease to get the project up and running.

Instead of being embraced by SCA management, Joe McAlinden, who helped establish Virgin Blue in Australia, said negotiations and communications with CEO Peter Pallot and his property management team had completely broken down.

His frustration matches that of Becker Helicopters head Mike Becker who has announced plans to shift a large portion of his operations to South Australia and McDermott Aviation chief John McDermott who said he wouldn't contemplate expanding his operation at the airport because of the problems it had encountered.

Airport general aviation operators have formed an association to speak with one voice about their issues with management.

It plans to meet again on Monday.

"I can't extract a meaningful commercial lease commitment from these people," Mr McAlinden said.

"They talk in riddles and can't commit."

He said he would not be content until an independent examination of the day to day management of Sunshine Coast Airport was conducted and the results were available for public appraisal.

"Sunshine Coast Airport is a public facility that is to serve the community of the Sunshine Coast," he said.

Airport general manager Peter Pallot has denied the claims, saying Sunshine Coast Airport Pty Ltd supported the development of a freight facility.

"The airport has invited Sunshine Coast Freight Centre to submit an offer to lease," Mr Pallot said.

"As of this date, no fully completed offers to lease have been received from Mr McAlinden, as required to complete the airport's initial due diligence process."

Mr McAlinden refuted this, saying airport management had at no stage highlighted to him areas of his submission that were incomplete.

He said he wanted to secure a long term, 30-year lease, with two additional options of 10 years reflecting a 50-year commitment to the region and had met with federal MPs, Andrew Wallace (Fisher) and Ted O'Brien (Fairfax), about his concerns.

"We want to invest, we are a customer and expect to be treated that way but instead we are being treated appallingly," he said.

"They (SCA management) are putting hurdles in front of us that we simply cannot tolerate."

Mr McAlinden said a site he had paid a $12,650 holding deposit to secure was three years old, had never been occupied and was barely compliant.

He said the building on the site had one power point, an external disabled toilet, no concrete hard stand, no office facilities, no industrial access to the front of the building, no adequate fencing, nor external lighting and services. …

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