Receivers of the troubled regional airline Brindabella had hoped to quickly sell it, but once that became impossible they had to retrench 128 staff.

Nearly all staff at troubled regional carrier Brindabella Airlines have been told they’re out of a job just two days before Christmas.

The 140 workers at the Canberra-based airline were told on Monday that 128 of them had lost their jobs.

Staff were told the airline could no longer be sold after it lost most of its licenses and the majority of its planes were returned to their owners.

All but a dozen staff at the cash-strapped airline will be retrenched, as the receivers KordaMentha try to sell the company’s remaining assets, mainly four J-41 jetliners.

KordaMentha spokesman Michael Smith said the receivers did not want to dangle false hope in front of the workers once it became clear there wasn’t anything left to sell.

“It’s a terrible time of year for this to happen,” he told AAP on Monday.

“But the receivers thought it was better to be upfront with the workers as soon as the worst had been realised, to give them every possible chance to use the holiday period to look for work.”

Brindabella reported to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in November that several of its planes hadn’t been checked or had parts replaced in line with strict schedules set by manufacturers for about a year.

The aviation watchdog launched an investigation and on December 12 ordered the company’s remaining six planes be pulled from service for assessment.

Just three days after the fleet was grounded, Brindabella went into receivership, with all flights suspended and bookings ceased.

Mr Smith said staff were stood down last week in the hope the receivers could quickly sell the airline, but they had realised if that didn’t happen the outlook wasn’t good.

“Today that reality became apparent, and that’s the end of the line for Brindabella as a going concern,” he said.

Once the company goes into liquidation, the 128 employees to be immediately retrenched would be eligible to get their entitlements under an Australian Government guarantee scheme.

The receivers have already begun the paperwork to help employees submit their entitlement claims.

Mr Smith said the NSW government’s decision last week to revoke Brindabella’s exclusive regional licenses so other airlines could operate those routes “didn’t help”.

“After that happened, we went back to the people who were interested in buying the airline, but that stripping of those licences diminished the offering,” he said.

“There really wasn’t a lot else left to sell.”

Mr Smith said there were a number of airlines keen to service Brindabella’s routes after it stopped running flights.

Qantas was providing extra services along some of Brindabella’s usual routes.

Brindabella was founded in 1994, and serviced regional centres from Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane.

The competitive nature of the airline industry, coupled with regulatory and maintenance issues, were blamed for contributing to Brindabella’s financial problems.