Melbourne joins suitors to pitch new home for Virgin Australia

Melbourne Airport has joined the growing list of suitors looking to become Virgin Australia’s home base.

While administrators Deloitte help Virgin look for a way out of its $5 billion debt problems, three states have put their case forward to be the carrier’s headquarters.

Currently based in Brisbane, Sydney was the first to make an audacious pitch for Virgin to set up at the new Badgerys Creek airport.

Now Melbourne Airport has thrown its hat into the ring, saying it is better placed than Brisbane to exploit the route between Melbourne and Sydney.

“Brisbane is not the centre of business activity in Australia − that really belongs to Melbourne and Sydney,” Melbourne Airport chief executive Lyell Strambi told The Age.

“Sydney has got Qantas very entrenched as its base carrier and that always left Melbourne as being the puzzling one as to why it was under-served by a base airline.

“That’s the opportunity for Virgin; to move away from its over-reliance on the leisure and resource sector. If you want to be successful, you want to be in a place where you can access business traffic.”

Queensland has been fierce in its defence of keeping Virgin on home territory, offering the cash strapped airline $200 million as a sweetner to stay put. Around half the carrier’s 10,000-strong workforce are based in Brisbane.

Deloitte said more than 10 potential new owners have already expressed interesting in buying Virgin.