COASTJET GROUNDED

THIRTY people lost their jobs when a long-standing Port Macquarie aviation business closed its doors and went into administration yesterday.

CoastJet, based at Port Macquarie Airport, ceased trading on Tuesday afternoon and an administrator appointed yesterday.

Administrator David Leigh from PPB Recovery is examining CoastJet’s assets and liabilities.

He expects to have a better understanding of the company’s position in a week.

Port Macquarie surgeon Guy Hingston bought the 19-year-old business 2½ years ago.

Dr Hingston said the main reason for CoastJet’s demise was the loss of a $2.8 million deposit on two new jets when American company Eclipse Aviation Corporation went into bankruptcy.

The business was made more vulnerable, he said, by its heavy investment in a new partnership with Sweden’s Lund University School of Aviation.

He said CoastJet was preparing for its first intake of 24 students from Sweden at the end of March.

Dr Hingston said he and CoastJet’s staff were devastated.

“We had two jets we were about to take delivery of, but with the manufacturer going bankrupt, we’ve lost everything,” he said.

The jets were destined to for CoastJet’s growing air ambulance service, Dr Hingston said, as well as for international airline pilot training and charters.

CoastJet launched its private air ambulance service between Port Macquarie and Sydney in September.

“I’m devastated that it has now fallen over,” Dr Hingston said.

Thirty staff were out of jobs.

CoastJet was attracting pilots from across the country to upgrade their skills in readiness for becoming airline pilots.

It also provided a charter service.

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