Hundreds stranded in Phuket as airline goes bust
PHUKET: Hundreds of Australians are stranded in Thailand after their airline, Air Australia, went into voluntary administration this morning or, to put it more succinctly, went bust.
Friday 17 February 2012, 09:13AM
Australian paper The Age reported that some 4,000 passengers have been left in various parts of the world with worthless tickets, and 300 staff are already phoning around looking for new jobs.
International flights – from Phuket, Bali and Honolulu – were stuck on the ground after being refused fuel, the airline’s credit having been cancelled. In Australia, more passengers are scattered in various places after the airline’s domestic services stopped.
The home page of the airline’s website states, “On 17 February 2012, the Director of Air Australia group of companies appointed John Park and Mark Korda of KordaMentha as Voluntary Administrators.”
In an FAQ file, the airline (or KordaMentha) explains, “In the short term, the fleet will be grounded. It currently appears that there are no funds available to meet operational expenses so flights will be suspended immediately.
“For clarity, it also appears highly unlikely there will be any flights in the short to medium term.”
In answer to the question, “I have a booking – what happens now?” it responds bluntly, “The flight will not take place. You should make alternate arrangements.”
Passengers who paid by credit card may be able to retrieve their money, but anyone who paid cash has lost it, the FAQ file says. “Unfortunately, if you paid by cash, it is likely you will not be entitled to a refund.”
It goes on to give a list of alternative airlines the passengers can approach for flights home.
Asked what could be done to help the stranded passengers, Air Australia's Bangkok representative, Sarinya Holloway, told The Phuket News, "I can't give you a comment. If you want a comment, please call the main office in Australia."
Hope has been offered, however, by Qantas and its subsidiary JetStar. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told The Seven Network in Australia, "Jetstar is looking at adding supplementary services to help those passengers.’
"If the passengers come to a Qantas desk, a Jestar desk, show their ticket, we’ll give them a ticket for the same value they’ve paid with Air Australia, so they don’t have to pay any more and they can try and recover that fare from their travel agencies or their credit card suppliers,’’ he said.
Today's announcement of voluntary administration looks like the final blow for the airline, which made negative headlines in June last year when it was known as Strategic Airlines. A forced landing in Kuala Lumpur rippled through the airline’s small fleet, stranding 300 passengers in Phuket for several days.
Strategic was rebranded as Air Australia in November last year.