From The Australian
FORMER 1980s high-flyer Geoffrey Edelsten has emerged as a potential white knight for the troubled airline Air Australia.
The investment would be the latest in a string of purchases during a six-month spending spree that has so far yielded the entrepreneur and deregistered medico an Indonesian coalmine, 1200 US properties and a Caribbean casino.
Speaking to The Australian, Mr Edelsten said: "Some weeks ago I received an approach to look at investing in an airline, which I declined. They have since made a new approach and we will listen to what they say."
A spokesman for Air Australia said the owners were "open to the possibility of equity investment with the right partner . . . however, no commitments have been made".
Sources close to the deal say that discussions are under way to make Mr Edelsten's 28-year-old wife Brynne, a former fitness instructor, the face of the company.
"You really need to understand the business if you invest in an airline. Although I am a pilot, running a commercial airline would require a great deal of expertise to be successful," Mr Edelsten said.
"As an investment it's got to stand alone."
The deal would cement a lifelong interest in aviation for Mr Edelsten, who survived a helicopter crash at Melbourne's Moorabbin airport in December 2009.
Asked if his involvement would extend to flying, he said: "My wife won't let me. The closest I get to flying these days is with a remote control helicopter she bought me for Christmas."
Last week, The Australian uncovered a dispute between Air Australia and travel agents Flight Centre who were concerned about reports that underwriters would not provide the airline with insolvency insurance.
Formerly Strategic Airlines, Air Australia operates a limited service between a handful of Australian cities and some Southeast Asian holiday destinations. The airline was acquired by Strategic from aviation entrepreneur Paul Stoddart in July 2009 under the name OzJet.