The future both of Airnorth (Australia) (TL, Alice Springs) and of connectivity in the Northern Territory (NT) is in doubt, as its competitor Rex - Regional Express (ZL, Wagga Wagga) said it had postponed a decision on making a formal offer to buy it, Australia's ABC News reported on August 13.

Uncertainty over the future of Airnorth has continued since its parent Bristow Group, a Houston-based industrial aviation services provider, sought bankruptcy protection of its United States and Cayman Islands entities in May.

Although Airnorth has not confirmed rumours that it is currently on the market, a spokesman told ABC: "As part of our financial restructuring process, Bristow Group Inc is reviewing all possible options to help the company emerge a stronger, more financially stable company and is constantly re-evaluating its global portfolio."

Bristow's other fixed-wing carrier, the UK's Eastern Airways (T3, Humberside), was sold in May.

John Sharp, deputy chairman of Rex, said his company had been approached by third parties to buy the competitor, "with a view of trying to get us to make an offer on Airnorth. In the end, we've chosen not to do so."

On June 3, Rex revealed in a statement that it was looking at launching passenger services in the NT based out of Darwin. Sharp confirmed to ABC that his carrier saw Airnorth's precarious situation as "an opportunity [...] for new services to be established in the Northern Territory." Flights could start from 2020, he added.

Earlier in August, the Australian Financial Review reported that Bristow Group had begun the process of selling Airnorth, with anonymous sources saying that corporate adviser Allier Capital had been hired to oversee the sale. The sources said that UK-based Cobham Group was considering a bid, which it may then bundle with its own Australian subsidiary, Cobham Aviation Services Australia (NJS, Adelaide) (CASA).

Bristow Group said in a statement last week that Airnorth remained "committed to operating services".

"Airnorth maintains a leadership position in the Northern region of Australia with strong financial performance and a continued expansion of its business highlighted by the recent introduction of new seasonal services to the Gold Coast and growth in jet frequencies on key routes such as Perth Int'l, Cairns, and to Dili in Timor-Leste," the statement said.

Airnorth operates five E170s, five E120s, and two Metroliner 23s on scheduled flights throughout Australia and to East Timor. It also carries out passenger charters for and on behalf of a number of public and private sector firms in Australia's mining, defence and government sectors.