New South Wales has upped the stakes in the tug-of-war over the location of debt-burdened Virgin's new headquarters.
Virgin, which last week entered voluntary administration, is currently carrying about $6 billion in debt with its domestic and international business feeling the full brunt of the coronavirus crisis.
The carrier has been seeking federal help to keep running but saw its pleas for $1.4 billion rejected despite claims airfares could spike if the domestic market was left mainly to Qantas.
The collapse has seen state government's now embroiled in a war of words over the eventual location of Virgin's headquarters if the airline received a much-needed bailout.
If it is to survive through the administration, currently being overseen by Deloitte, the company is likely to emerge as a very different airline.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed her state’s interest last week in a push for Virgin, and its 1,200 head office employees, to be headquartered at the new Western Sydney Aerotropolis at Badgerys Creek.
The premier said she made “no apologies” for trying to lure jobs south.
Liverpool mayor Wendy Waller has weighed in on the strategic play for the ailing airline and said the proposed Aerotropolis headquarters would be a huge boost for local jobs and improve international connections when the Western Sydney International Airport opens in 2026.
“As a council, our immediate focus is to support businesses and the community as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic,” Waller said.
“Key to this recovery will be government and private sector investment.”
The potential new headquarters would link up with the recently unveiled Fifteenth Avenue Smart Transit Corridor, linking Western Sydney International Airport with the Western Sydney Aerotropolis and the Liverpool city centre.
The corridor has been future-proofed for emerging technologies such as trackless trams and is going to be a critical transport link.
Annastacia Palaszczuk said she would continue to fight to keep Virgin in Queensland because of its importance to the state’s tourism industry.
The Queensland government has planned to offer $200 million towards a national package to support Virgin Australia, but only if the airline keeps its headquarters in Brisbane.
Neither state is likely to be able to offer enough support unless help is forthcoming from the federal government, which has so far balked at bailing out the airline.
Administrators said there are currently more than 10 interested parties with bidders likely to coalesce into fewer consortiums that would stand a real chance of buying the airline.