See you later alligator – West Australian airline Alligator Airways collapses after forced grounding

A West Australian charter airline has collapsed into administration, just days after the civil aviation authority upheld a grounding order against the company citing safety concerns.

Administrators KordaMentha were appointed to Alligator Airways on Wednesday, but the firm was not able to reply to SmartCompany before publication.

The airline company was also contacted, but referred SmartCompany to the administrator.

The collapse highlights the pressures on the tourism and aviation industries, as fuel prices rise and domestic travel wanes.

This morning, a spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority said the current court order runs until Monday, and then the aviation authority has five days to decide whether another notice can be extended.

“That will be determined next week,” a CASA spokesperson said.

CASA upheld a grounding order on May 18, saying the order was made after the Federal Court in Melbourne found there were reasonable grounds the company was engaging in, or likely to engage in, activity which “contributed to or resulted in a serious and imminent risk to air safety”.

“The prohibition order has been granted to allow CASA sufficient time to complete its investigation,” it said, upholding the initial grounding handed down on May 3.

In that statement, the regulator said that during 2011 and 2012, CASA served a number of “show-cased notices” on the airline due to concerns about maintenance and a failure to report some key incidents.

“These incidents involved forced landings where CASA believes employees of Alligator Airways were aware of significant defects affecting the safety of aircraft prior to flight,” it said.

The company was also accused of having a deficient safety culture, and an “inability of key personnel to carry out their safety obligations and key positions unoccupied or not functional”.

A similar order was made against Tiger Airways last year, when the aviation authority grounded the company because of safety concerns.

Alligator Airways flies charter flights from Kununurra and Broome, offering customised tours and safaris as well. The company has been operating in the Kimberley since 1983.

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