Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba said it was “staggering” to see the extent of JetGo’s debts – of at least $17 million but up to $32 million – revealed on Wednesday.
“It’s pretty staggering to realise they could actually have that much exposure,” she said.
“And the more people that are vying to get their money back, the less any one is going to get back. It just shows the sad reality is that most of us will have lost a significant amount.”
Cr Saliba said she knew of other councils in “a much worse position than we are” due to JetGo not paying landing fees.
“It’s just really sad all round, that a service that we allowed to establish in Albion Park is in this position,” she said.
“At that time, there was no evidence of this, all the credentials stood up – but now we’ve got to this stage where they have very quickly got to this point.”
“I think part of that is that running an airline is a very expensive business, so it doesn’t take very long for them to rack up these kind of bills - fuel, maintenance and the money they haven’t paid to the councils has been pretty gobsmacking.”
She also said the council was still working hard to get passenger planes back up and running out of Albion Park, noting it would be acting very cautiously to find a new operator for the popular route from Wollongong to Melbourne.
“We will ensure that our future agreements are watertight in regards to payments,” she said.
“I feel very burnt that this has happened in Shellharbour city, however I’m still hopeful we will get an airline that will offer security and longevity for the people of this region.”
With the company’s first creditors meeting revealing there were 10,000 customers out of pocket, Cr Saliba urged locals to immediately contact their credit card providers, which she said would give them the best chance to recoup their money.