Stranded passengers hit by Hong Kong airline closure


Hong Kong – Stranded passengers hit by the closure of Hong Kong’s budget airline Oasis besieged the airport Thursday, many trying to find a way home after the troubled airline stopped all flights Wednesday.

An extra flight to help passengers scheduled by Cathay Pacific for Friday has already been filled, while a second flight on Sunday is filling up fast, said the airline.

More than 30,000 passengers holding tickets valued at 300 million Hong Kong dollars (38.5 million US dollars) have been affected by the collapse of Osais, Hong Kong’s first long-haul budget airline.

The closure has also left around 700 staff uncertain about their future.

The airline, which offered fares of as little as 1,000 Hong Kong dollars (128 US dollars) between London and Hong Kong, suspended all flights after going into voluntary liquidation, blaming competition and high fuel prices.

The shock news, just 18 months after the airline’s launch, left thousands of people with return tickets stranded in Hong Kong or the airline’s two destinations London and Vancouver.

Thousands more holding advance tickets have been left struggling to make alternative arrangements with no word about compensation or money refunds.

Briton Steve Mellor of Hertforshire was one of those at the airport Thursday trying to get home after arriving in Hong Kong on his way back from Vietnam.

However, he found there was no one around to advise him, leaving him feeling tired, disorientated and angry.

“There is nobody from Oasis Hong Kong to let us know what is going on,” he said on government-run radio station RTHK.

“You need some feedback, some information, but there are no notices around the airport saying Oasis has gone bust.

“It looks like I could be here some time. I like Hong Kong, don’t get me wrong, but I need to get back to work. I have a wife who is not well and I need to be home. This is just unacceptable.”

Oasis chief executive Steve Miller made the announcement Wednesday that the airline had been put in the hands of accounting firm KPMG after going into voluntary liquidation.

The decision followed the failure of negotations over a rescue package reported to be with HNA Group, the parent group of Hainan Airlines.

Oasis caused a sensation in Hong Kong’s aviation industry when it began operating two Boeing 747 planes in October 2006, flying between Hong Kong and London.

Within a year, it had five Boeing 747 planes in operation and boasted that in its first year it flew 250,000 passengers between London and Hong Kong. It began flights to Vancouver last June.

It was voted the world’s leading new airline in December at the World Travel Awards, which have been called the travel industry’s equivalent of the Oscars.