Billionaire bids to bail out airline

A CHINESE billionaire has offered a lifeline to a grounded Port Macquarie aviation business.

A company backed by international businessman Chun Ming Li has paid a deposit to buy CoastJet, pending the result of a series of creditor meetings in Port Macquarie today.

His vision is to train Chinese pilots through the business at Port Macquarie Airport.

Administrator David Leigh has recommended three of the companies, including the main operating company, enter into a deed of company arrangement in a step towards selling the business.

Other options include placing CoastJet into liquidation, which would allow more detailed investigations into the company, or winding up the business.

Mr Leigh said liquidation would be unlikely to result into any further “recoveries”.

He said the potential buyer had big plans to build the business.

The CoastJet Group features seven companies, which are principally controlled by Port Macquarie surgeon Dr Guy Hingston.

When CoastJet closed its doors in January, Dr Hingston blamed its demise on the loss of a deposit on two new jets when American company Eclipse Aviation Corporation went bankrupt.

The $2.1 million deposit can’t be recovered.

Dr Hingston yesterday said the CoastJet sale would be a fantastic outcome.

“If you’re looking for a great result for the community and the staff, there’s no better result,” he said.

Dr Hingston said he was disappointed by the demise of the company because his family had lost a seven-figure sum.

He bought the business five years ago and launched into an expansion plan, including agreements to train international student pilots.

The business started to experience financial trouble towards the end of last year.

It is understood the main operating company has debts of about $930,000, CoastJet Aircraft’s debts total $4.6 million, CoastJet Aircraft Maintenance has $220,000 in debts and Lund International School of Aviation owes $560,000.

It is believed the Australian Taxation Office tops the list of unsecured creditors, which also includes aviation businesses and councils.