Thursday, April 10, 2008

Oasis Hong Kong Airlines shutdown strands crews and passengers

Oasis Hong Kong Boeing 747-400Oh no, not another one! I'm getting weary of reporting about airlines abruptly going out of business this month. In fact, it's depressing.

This time it is low cost long-haul carrier Oasis Hong Kong Airlines that has shut down its flight operations. A press release dated April 10, 2008 and posted on the company's website announced that "the airline has applied to the Hong Kong Court to appoint a provisional liquidator on 9 April 2008."

The press release goes on to say that provisional liquidators appointed by the Court have assumed control of the airline. Named as liquidators were Edward Middleton and Patrick Cowley of accounting and consulting firm KPMG.

A BBC News article about the closure of Oasis Hong Kong Airlines quoted the carriers founders, Raymond and Priscilla Lee, who said, "As oil prices sharply increased, the fuel costs took up the majority of our budget." They added that the decision to buy planes, rather than lease them, had also played a part in its being forced into liquidation.

Oasis Hong Kong, which began flying in October 2006, operated daily flights between Hong Kong and London-Gatwick, and six flights a week between Hong Kong and Vancouver. The shut down of the airline has left thousands of passengers stranded. In its press release, posted on the Oasis Hong Kong website, the airline listed the names and telephone numbers of other carriers that fly the same routes, as well as hotel information for passengers in Hong Kong. The gesture will be of little comfort to stranded passengers, because the notice also said that "owing to the airline’s current situation, they will need to meet the cost of these alternate flight arrangements themselves."

Crews Stranded

The online edition of the South China Morning Post (SCMP) is reporting that 28 Oasis Hong Kong crew members are stranded in Namibia, although there was no mention of how they came to be in Namibia. The SCMP quoted an Oasis Hong Kong spokesman who said that the airline's first priority was dealing with passengers, then staff.
“We are not sure when the crew members [in Namibia, a country in Southern Africa] will return to Hong Kong,” he added.

Earlier, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions general secretary Lee Cheuk-yan told Hong Kong radio that the 28 crew members had originally intended to return to Hong Kong on Saturday.

“But now the airline has collapsed, we are not sure when the staffers can come back,” Mr Lee explained. “But we have contacted the accounting firm KPMG and they said their employment contract has not ended and they will seek ways to help them to come back.”
According to the SCMP, more than 50 crew members, who were in London, returned to Hong Kong on Wednesday night, and more than 10 crew members in Canada would fly back on other airlines.

The SCMP reports that Hong Kong Oasis crew members said they had not been formally notified that the airline was closing, and they were shocked when they heard the news. The airline’s 700 staff members were said to have been paid through March 31, 2008.

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