Virgin Australia owes $6.2b to creditors, to seek waiver on aircraft leases

Virgin Australia succumbed to third-party led restructuring that could lead to a sale. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Virgin Australia Holdings owes A$6.90 billion (S$6.24 billion) to more than 10,000 creditors based on an initial review and will seek a three-month payment waiver from aircraft lessors, according to the company's administrators.

Virgin Australia on Tuesday succumbed to third-party led restructuring that could lead to a sale, making Australia's second-biggest airline the Asia-Pacific region's biggest victim of the coronavirus crisis gripping the industry.

The figure owed to creditors includes about A$2.3 billion of secured debt, A$2 billion of unsecured bonds, A$1.9 billion of aircraft leases, A$450 million owed to employees, A$167 million to trade creditors and A$71 million to landlords, said the affidavit from administrator Vaughan Strawbridge posted on the website of his firm Deloitte.

The bankrupt airline's administrators are liable to pay leases on its aircraft starting April 28, because they will not inform lessors whether they would renege on leases within five business days, as required by law, the documents said.

The Deloitte administrators are seeking court orders for an extension of up to four weeks from their appointment to decide if leased planes were required for continuing operations of the business, it said in a letter to lessors posted on its website.

"Next week we will be wanting to engage with you to firm up on interim arrangements with the Administrators to support the process being followed to achieve a recapitalisation and sale, which will include a request for a three-month waiver of rent and other financial payment obligations," the letter said.

The lessors with the biggest financial exposure to Virgin Australia include Goshawk, Avation, Aercap Holdings, ORIX Aviation and SMBC Aviation Capital, each with estimated income from the airline of at least US$1 million a month, according to aviation data provider Cirium.

The airline has four main shareholders: Singapore Airlines with a 20-per cent stake, Etihad Airways (21 per cent), China's Nanshan Group (20 per cent) and HNA (20 per cent). The founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, owns 10 per cent of its shares while another 9 per cent is free float.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.