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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 08:10 GMT
New rescue hopes for Ansett
Empty Ansett desks in terminal
Ansett was once Australia's second-largest carrier
Talks are being held with a potential buyer for bankrupt airline Ansett, following emergency negotiations.

New buyers were being sort urgently after the Tesna consortium pulled out on Tuesday, throwing the future of the airline back into disarray.

Ansett's Administrators said they had begun talks with logistics company Patrick Corp, formerly known as Lang.

Virgin Blue, owned by British entrepreneur Richard Branson, has been named as a potential partner with Patrick.

But analysts are sceptical that a second rescue plan can be forged, and have already upgraded earnings targets for dominant carrier Qantas in light of Ansett's ongoing troubles.

Political intervention?

The administrators have not provided further details of the talks.

Patrick's original bid was shunned in favour of Tesna - a syndicate led by Australian businessmen Solomon Lew and Lindsay Fox.

Tesna announced on Tuesday that it could not close the deal and blamed stalled negotiations on taking over Ansett's leases of domestic airport terminals across Australia.

Mr Fox also hit out at Prime Minister John Howard, saying the government had obstructed the deal for political reasons.

Mr Fox claimed that Mr Howard opposed the deal because his consortium was too closely aligned with the left-wing union movement.

Grounded

Loss-making Ansett was grounded in September after being abandoned by its parent Air New Zealand.

More than 16,000 employees lost their jobs, although about 3,000 were re-employed by the slimmed down successor, Ansett Mark II.

The future of these 3,000 staff is now on the line again.

Meanwhile, the government has said that it will monitor Qantas - which commands about 80% of the domestic market - to ensure that it does not abuse its dominant position.

See also:

10 Feb 02 | Business
Ansett orders Airbus planes
28 Jan 02 | Business
Ansett sale tests creditors' resolve
08 Nov 01 | Business
Ansett finds a buyer
27 Sep 01 | Business
Ansett returns from bankruptcy
17 Sep 01 | Business
Ansett administrator quits
16 Sep 01 | Business
Ansett workers offered some hope
14 Sep 01 | Business
Protests as Australia airline fails
12 Sep 01 | Business
Aussie airline rescue fails
11 Sep 01 | Business
Qantas poised for airline deal
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