30,000 passengers hit by Hong Kong airline closure

April 10th, 2008 - 11:28 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of KPMG
Hong Kong, April 10 (DPA) More than 30,000 passengers holding tickets valued at Hong Kong $300 million ($38.5 million) have been affected by the collapse of Hong Kong’s first long-haul budget airline, Oasis, travel industry officials said Thursday. The airline, which offered fares of as little as $1,000 between London and Hong Kong, suspended all flights Wednesday after going into voluntary liquidation.

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

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

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

“We have suspended all passenger services with immediate effect,” Miller said. “KPMG will be looking for new investors for the airline in the next few days, and we are very confident that somebody will come forward.”

The decision followed the failure of negotiations over a rescue package reported to be with HNA Group, the parent company of the mainland Chinese Hainan Airlines.

On Thursday, the South China Morning Post reported that negotiations with Hainan Airlines collapsed after it was revealed that the Oasis chairman had pledged his shares as collateral for a personal loan.

Quoting an unnamed source, the Post said the news had derailed the rescue package.

Joseph Tung of the Travel Industry Council said around 30,000 people who had paid about $300 million for tickets were affected.

The closure has also left about 700 staff uncertain about their futures.

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 747s in operation and boasted that in its first year it flew 250,000 passengers between London and Hong Kong. It began flights to Vancouver in 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.

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