What happens when you’re overseas and your airline goes bust? Air Australia has done exactly that, stranding thousands of passengers. Do you wait for rescue or scramble to get home on other airlines? Lots of upset people are trying both. Either way, it’s not going to happen in a matter of hours. Some people will be waiting for days, scrambling to find accommodation, or sleeping at the airport. They will have to fork out hundreds of extra dollars just to get home. Fortunately Virgin Australia, AirAsiaX, Hawaiian Airlines, Qantas and Jetstar have stepped in to help.
The now-failed airline has also sold about 100,000 tickets for future flights. It’s believed Air Australia was still accepting reservations as late as Thursday, February 17. Passengers who paid by credit card might have some chance of geting their money back. Understandably there are now serious questions about whether it was trading while insolvent.
Air Australia was previously called Strategic Airlines until the name change in 2011. The airline serviced domestic routes in Australia and long-haul to the Pacific and South-East Asia. About 4000 passengers are stranded and the airline’s 300 staff have been stood down. It’s understood two flights from Honolulu and Phuket scheduled for Melbourne were grounded when they were refused fuel.
Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called on the airline to do all it can to get Australians home. But airlines that go bust don’t have the resources to help. Or they wouldn’t be bust, Julia.
Daily deals website Scoopon, which sold return Melbourne-Phuket flights for $A599, says it has set up a team to help customers stuck overseas.
AirAsia X has just announced it will waive their base seat fare from Kuala Lumpur to Australia to rescue stranded passengers in Thailand and Bali affected by the grounding of the Air Australia fleet. Stranded passengers in Thailand and Bali will need to make their own way to Kuala Lumpur where they can purchase special tickets back to Australia from only $A56. Upon arrival at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Kuala Lumpur, passengers will need to go to the AirAsia sales counter.
On presentation of a valid Air Australia ticket, passengers will be able to purchase a ticket to AirAsia X Australia destinations (Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth) for the cost of applicable taxes and charges only. The fares are to: Gold Coast $A56, Perth $A61, Melbourne $A64. Baggage fees will also be waived for up to 20kg per person.