Douglas Aerospace is back painting planes in the hangar it was forced to vacate after defaulting on a building loan from ratepayers.
Regional Express (Rex) has licensed the hangar to Douglas Aerospace for their paint activity from the very first day of Rex’s involvement and will continue to do so going forward.
As recently as December 2015, council general manager Alan Eldridge threatened to lock Douglas Aerospace out of the building if its staff didn’t vacate voluntarily.
The Wagga-based plane refurbishment outfit, which went into voluntary administration after a legal stoush with the Albury-based hangar builder, is well and truly back up and running.
Rex last week bought the painting hangar at the airport for $2.73 million, two months after threatening to walk away from Wagga and 12 months after agreeing to buy it for $2.8m.
Rex’s Singapore-based chairman Lim Kim Hai credited Wagga mayor Greg Conkey for salvaging the deal, “without whom the deal would surely have been aborted”.
Councillor Conkey said council had lost – not including legal fees and staff salaries – $120,000 throughout the saga, which in his opinion was a reasonable outcome given council was almost lumbered with a white elephant.
“Given we could have been left with a loan worth nearly $2m and a hangar nobody wanted, it's a reasonable outcome,” Cr Conkey said.
“Not to mention, we kept Rex in Wagga, which by any stretch of the imagination is a good outcome.
“Rex has added to their infrastructure in this city and their $10 million-plus payroll stays.”
The rectification costs incurred by council over the last 12 months to bring the building up to code was around $700,000, according to Cr Conkey.
In November, Rex claimed it had asked council to fix the hangar for months to no avail and queried the validity of the existing building certificate, given a “list of defects” raised “serious work, health and safety issues”.
The company demanded mechanised exhaust fans.