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Old Sep 29, 03, 6:10 am   #1
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Qantas and Patricks to buy the Ansett MEL facility

Qantas, Patrick bid for Ansett unit

Sep 29 - James Eyers

Qantas Airways and Patrick Corp have formed a joint venture and offered to buy the former Ansett engine maintenance facility in Melbourne. Neither company would provide the financial details of their proposal.

The offer will be considered by the administrators of Ansett, which collapsed in September 2001.

The joint venture will be known as the Engine Services Company, or ESCO, and would service all Qantas' General Electric and CFMI engines, Qantas said in a statement on Monday.

Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon said ESCO would seek to attract work from other customers, including Virgin Blue, which is jointly owned by Patrick Corp and Richard Branson.

"ESCO will enable us to provide additional specialised engine maintenance jobs in Australia and achieve this with a business structure that will be competitive and sustainable," Mr Dixon said on Monday.

Qantas said it would continue to service its Rolls Royce engines from its Sydney facility and use its existing operation at Tullamarine to work on auxilliary power units if the offer is accepted.

Patrick managing director Chris Corrigan said the purchase of the engine maintence facility at Tullamarine was "another step in our strategy of providing a wide range of services to the airline industry in the Asia Pacific region".

Last year, Patrick Corp bought half of Virgin Blue and expanded its air services business through the acquisition of the former Ansett international cargo handling terminals.

Patrick Air Services currently provides baggage handling for Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand, Thai Airways and Air Canada at Australian airports, a Patrick spokesman said.


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