Alpha sold to Hong Kong plane-maker

BY NICOLA BOYES
Last updated 12:22 26/06/2009
High
WAIKATO TIMES
HIGH DAYS: Alpha Aviation's first ever Alpha 160A makes its maiden test flight around Hamilton in 2006.

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Hamilton's failed Alpha Aviation has been bought by a Hong Kong company which intends to start manufacturing aircraft on the site.

IXL Limited has been in negotiations with receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers for the past few months and a deal was signed off this week.

It is not known if the company will continue making the successful 160A training aircraft. Directors have declined to make any comment on their plans at this stage, other than saying they will start manufacturing planes on the site.

Companies office searches show the director is Yu Chang Sang, who is also listed as the director of IXL Maintenance and IXL Manufacturing, IXL Concept and IXL Enterprises.

PwC director David Blanchett said the sale amount could not be disclosed but said it represented the culmination of a lengthy process in a difficult economic climate.

Mr Blanchett and PwC partner Colin McCloy were appointed receivers of Alpha Aviation's companies in January and February last year.

The closure saw the loss of 35 jobs, including engineers who had relocated from Britain to New Zealand. Three staff were kept on at the site to offer maintenance for aircraft already in circulation.

"The co-operation of the remaining Alpha Aviation staff, suppliers and CAA was critical to facilitating the sale," said Mr Blanchett.

He said they would now able to pay the employees' preferential entitlements in full, although at this stage there will be insufficient funds to contribute towards the claims of unsecured creditors. Mr Blanchett said there were plans to sell 11 leased aircraft, and the Alpha Aviation building on land leased from the airport at Ingram Rd.

Jill Sanderson, whose husband Geoff and son Christopher worked for Alpha Aviation, said her husband was owed $1018 in wages and about $4072 in lieu of notice. Christopher was owed about $600. She said her husband had gone to work for BAE Systems in Saudi Arabia and was unlikely to look at returning to the new company.

But others were still in Hamilton and would consider jobs with the new manufacturer if they were available, she said.

Opportunity Hamilton chief executive Sandra Perry said the Aviation Cluster was excited new owners had taken over Alpha Aviation.

"We see them as integral members of the cluster and we hope to see employment opportunities from this."

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- Waikato Times

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