Brindabella receivership leaves customers high and dry

TROUBLED carrier Brindabella Airlines is in the hands of receivers KordaMentha after it failed to recover from the grounding of eight of its 10 aircraft because of overdue maintenance checks.

A Brindabella spokesperson said on Saturday it had temporarily suspended operations even though the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) was allowing two of its Jetstream aircraft to remain in service.

The airline suspended its Orange/Sydney service from December 2 leaving only competitor Regional Express (REX) to service the route.

David Winterbottom of KordaMentha said on Sunday the airline would no longer accept bookings and all flights would be suspended indefinitely.

He is calling for expressions of interest to purchase the business, but it will not operate in the meantime.

Qantas had begun providing additional services on some of Brindabella's routes, Mr Winterbottom said. 

Brindabella had a licence from the NSW government to serve as the monopoly provider on flights between Sydney and Mudgee, Cobar, Narrabri and Moree and winter-only services to Cooma.

"We are looking at a range of options to help the impacted communities in addition to special fares, including putting on relief flights outside our network on routes serviced by Brindabella," Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said on Saturday.

Brindabella customers in Mudgee and Cobar who hold a valid Brindabella ticket will be eligible to receive discounted relief fares from the closest QantasLink port, Dubbo. Customers in Narrabri and Moree who hold a valid Brindabella ticket will be eligible to receive discounted relief fares from the closest QantasLink port, Armidale and/or Tamworth.

Mr Winterbottom said the receivers were talking to government and regulatory authorities about other replacement services.

Only some customers with flights booked will be entitled to a refund depending on how they paid for the flight and where the ticket was purchased, according to the receivers.

Customers who paid by credit card may be entitled to claim a chargeback via their card issuer, but those who paid with cash are unlikely to be entitled to a refund unless they took out insurance that covers an event of insolvency.

Those who purchased their ticket through a travel agent should contact the agent.

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