Chinese-Australian company Sino Australia Clean Energy Company has made an unsolicited bid to buy Renmark Airport in South Australia.
Sino Australia Chinese owned submitted the bid to Renmark Paringa Council on 11 July, which now needs to go through a three-step evaluation process before any decision is made.
The initial proposal is for Chinese owned Sino to buy the airport and extend the main runway to allow for exporting produce from Australia direct to China and to build an international flying school with student accommodation at the airport.
A second part of the proposal is to buy land within Renmark township to establish an agricultural college for international students.
Renmark Paringa CEO Tony Siviour said the council has asked Sino Australia to submit a more detailed proposal.
“To date Council has received the initial proposal which is a high level overview of the proposal. Council’s preliminary view is that it wishes to understand the proposal in more detail and has granted Sino Australia 12 months to provide a detailed proposal in consultation with the State Coordinator General.”
According to the council, the airport can be sold because it was excluded from the Community Land classification in 2000 specifically so commercial proposals could be considered.
The council outlined its current position in an information paper circulated in late August.
“At this stage Council has made no commitments or decisions to sell any assets including the Renmark Airport,” the paper stated.
“Council has however indicated to Sino Australia that the current arrangements for Airport users with hangers and the Royal Flying Doctors are to remain unchanged, and the Airport is to remain open to other users if Council does proceed to Stage 3 Contract Negotiation.”
Renmark Paringa did not respond to Australian Flying when asked whether or not the council could act to prevent or regulate landing fees levied by Sino Australia should they succeed in their bid.
Renmark Airport was handed over to the council under the Aerodrome Local Ownership Program (ALOP) in 1975, the deed of which required Federal Government approval for any sale. However, in 2004, the Howard government waived its right to approval, which clears the way for any ALOP airport to be sold.