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Tuesday, 19 August 1980
Page: 456

Mr Morris asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 22 May 1980:

(1)   Has the Government, following International Air Transport Association (IATA) representations, reimbursed international airlines as a result of certain payments made in respect of space occupied at Sydney, New South Wales, and Melbourne, Victoria, International Airports Terminal buildings more than 5 years ago; if not, why not.

(2)   If some international airlines were reimbursed, (a) which airlines were they, (b) what sum did each airline receive and (c) why were the payments made.

Mr Hunt - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Ex gratia payments were approved in favour of certain airlines in respect of rentals charged for the period 1 March 1975 to 20 February 1976 inclusive for space occupied by them in Sydney and Melbourne International Terminal buildings.

(2)   (a) and (b) The amounts of ex gratia payments made in respect of the Sydney and Melbourne International Terminal buildings were as follows: (a)Airline (b) Amount

Qantas............. 874,391

KLM............. 10,285

Canadian Pacific......... 10,655

Alitalia............ 40,521

Japan Airlines.......... 14,718

Philippine Airlines......... 8,441

Lufthansa........... 17,388 (a)Airline (b) Amount

Singapore Airlines......... 62,169

Air India............ . 5,193

UTA............. 21,812

Ansett............. 15,206

(2)   (c) In 1973 the imposition of revised rents for space occupied by certain airlines in the Sydney and Melbourne International Terminal buildings was deferred pending a review of the method of assessing rental rates. The airlines agreed to this action.

Following this review, new rental rates were imposed with effect from 1 March 1975. Although some airlines paid the higher charges, some of them challenged the Sydney charges in the New South Wales Supreme Court, Equity Division. On 20 February 1976 the Court held the rents had been invalidly imposed.

However the Court, and subsequently, on 5 May 1977, the Court of Appeal, New South Wales Supreme Court, held that the Commonwealth was not legally obliged to refund the rentals paid by the airlines during the period.

During the litigation the then Minister for Transport met with International Air Transport Association delegations from time to time. He undertook to review the rental situation when, amongst other things, the Court cases were decided and the legal rights of the parties had been clarified.

This undertaking was honoured. On review it was decided that an ex gratia payment should be made to all airlines involved equivalent to the difference between the rents invalidly imposed and the rents that should have been paid by the airlines for the period.

The allocation to airline lessees included notional ex gratia credits to TAA ($56,229) and Pan American ($86,042). Those companies did not pay at the increased rates from 1 March 1975.

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