• Recreational aircraft in conference in the display area. (Paul Southwick)
    Recreational aircraft in conference in the display area. (Paul Southwick)

Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) has sought to clear the air over their decision not to make up a funding shortfall incurred by AirVenture Australia this year.

In response to a statement released last Friday in which AirVenture boss David Young expressed his disappointment that the RAAus board elected not to help with the financial deficit, RAAus today released the following explanation.

"Over the four years of AirVenture RAAus has invested more than $135,000 into the event by way of direct cash contributions. In addition to this RAAus has also contributed non-direct funding around $24,000. RAAus has also provided in non-financial ways by providing in kind support, free services to youth engagement programs.

"Despite these contributions and other forms of support, RAAus did not have any management input into the event and was not privy to the details regarding the BushCat promotional giveaway, insurance arrangements for the event or any risk mitigation plans put in place.

"AirVenture Australia requested in excess of $60,000 of member funds, almost half of the cash investment of the past four events, to cover the deficit of one single year. The RAAus board has noted that it is not appropriate to continue funding the shortfall with no ability to control or influence the decisions made to ensure the risks around such an investment can be managed appropriately.

"RAAus reached out to other industry participants who were happy to discuss arrangements for the event going forward but AirVenture Australia declined to partake at that time.

"AirVenture was intended to be an industry event in partnership with other aviation organisations, however, in recent years the HGFA, SAAA and APF have all withdrawn from the event leaving RAAus as the only supporting organisation. Whilst RAAus has been singled out in the recent announcement it is important to note that other organisations also have the opportunity to fund the shortfall should they so wish.

"RAAus has simply aligned its decisions with those made by other organisations in previous years in choosing to no longer divert member funds to an event not more broadly supported by industry bodies."

AirVenture Australia at Parkes in September was plagued with high winds and a dust storm, which organisers say contributed to lower than expected attendance and gate takings.

Update 4 December 2019

AirVenture Australia has issued Australian Flying with a response to the RAAus statement above.

"AirVenture Australia Pty Ltd has always acted properly and in accordance with the terms of the Oz-Kosh Trust. In general terms, aside from being the sole beneficiary, RAAus received sponsorship benefits from their contributions to AirVenture Australia and had significant prior knowledge of the BushCat giveaway. Specifically:

  1.  " The claims of contributions made by RAAus to AirVenture Australia of $135,000 is, with respect, misleading as:
    1. RAAus paid AirVenture Australia, in its capacity as trustee for RAAus, to be a Gold Sponsor at the event for the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 events. For that sponsorship, RAAus received significant advertising and promotional exposure through the event itself, being TV, radio, print and digital media. RAAus paid to AirVenture, again in its capacity as trustee, $76,600 including GST to hold this position over the four years. RAAus received no greater or no lesser advantage for that sponsorship than other sponsors such as OzRunways and Aviation Trader
    2. RAAus reimbursed AirVenture Australia $16,241.50 (including GST) for expenses which were paid on RAAus’s behalf, such as staff accommodation and other incidentals
    3. RAAus advanced to AirVenture Australia (as Trustee) $40,000. This advance was made after a deal that Mr Michael Linke of RAAus struck with Australian Parachute Federation to sponsor AirVenture Australia, had fallen through (for reasons unknown to AirVenture Australia).
  1. "The statement that RAAus was not privy to the details of the BushCat prize is, with respect, misleading as:
    1. RAAus CEO Mr Linke and Chairman Mr Michael Monck, attended the initial planning meeting for the BushCat with Global, BushCat, Rotax and Australian Aviation at Avalon Airshow in February this year 
    2. The aircraft was registered with RAAus in March of this year
    3. RAAus supplied one staff member to oversee and sign off on the build so that the aircraft could be registered and certified to fly at the event
    4. RAAus held numerous conversations with AirVenture Australia in regard to conduct of the give-away
    5. Both Mr Linke and Mr Monck were in regular contact with the Director of AirVenture Australia, Mr David Young, between March and September 2019 in regard to the BushCat project."
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