Air Australia Grounded; Qantas, Hawaiian Step In to Help Passengers

More bad news from Australia's skies today: Thousands of travelers have been left in the lurch around the world after the carrier Air Australia went into administration and grounded its fleet Friday. About 4,000 passengers in total have been left stranded in Hawaii, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia as a result of the suspension, Michael Smith, a spokesman for KordaMentha, told CNN.

The airline had sold about 100,000 tickets for future flights, Smith said. With no indication from Air Australia when it might resume operations, those tickets could end up worthless. Some customers may be entitled to refunds, the airline said, depending on how they bought their tickets. But it added that customers without the relevant insurance who paid in cash are unlikely to be eligible for refunds.

Other airlines are stepping up to help stranded passengers.

Qantas today announced a number of measures to assist stranded passengers affected by the grounding of Air Australia. For international passengers who have already commenced their journey, Qantas will match the applicable sector fare of the customer’s ticket, regardless of return date. The following special fares are also available for Air Australia passengers that have not started their journey for travel from February 17 until March 31. To access these special fares customers must book by 11:59pm (AEDT) on February 29.

Qantas One Way Economy Fare* (All inclusive AUD)
Brisbane – Jakarta via Sydney $ 450
Melbourne – Jakarta via Sydney $ 450
Brisbane – Bangkok via Sydney $ 550
Melbourne – Bangkok via Sydney $ 550
Brisbane – Honolulu via Sydney $ 650
Melbourne – Honolulu via Sydney $ 650

Qantas Return Economy Fare* (All inclusive AUD)
Brisbane – Jakarta via Sydney $ 900
Melbourne – Jakarta via Sydney $ 900
Brisbane – Bangkok via Sydney $1,100
Melbourne – Bangkok via Sydney $1,100
Brisbane – Honolulu via Sydney $ 1,300
Melbourne – Honolulu via Sydney $ 1,300

For Air Australia domestic passengers who have already commenced their journey, Qantas will match the applicable sector fare of the customer’s ticket, for travel between now and February 29. The following special fares are also available for Air Australia passengers for travel from 17 February 2012 until 31 March 2012. To access these special fares customers must book by 11:59pm (AEDT) on February 29.

Qantas One Way Economy Fare (All inclusive AUD)
Melbourne – Brisbane $ 159
Brisbane – Port Headland $ 492
Broome – Perth $ 245

Hawaiian Airlines is offering a special one-way “Rescue Fare” for Air Australia's passengers. The fare is valid for travel on Hawaiian’s daily flights between Honolulu to Sydney through Thursday, March 1 at $300 for Honolulu departures and $300 AUD for Sydney departures, all taxes and fees inclusive.

The Rescue Fare must be purchased by calling Hawaiian’s reservations department at 800-367-5320 or at Hawaiian’s ticket counters at Honolulu International Airport and Sydney International Airport. Travelers booking the fare will be required to present their Air Australia ticket or itinerary information when checking in for their Hawaiian Airlines flight. Hawaii residents booking the fare for a return to Hawaii from Sydney will be asked to produce their Hawaii ID at check in.
“We’re offering this special fare to help our friends from Australia return home and not let this unfortunate circumstance tarnish their vacation in Hawaii,” said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO. “We also want to help any Hawaii residents stranded in Australia to get home.”

Hawaiian offers daily, nonstop flights between Honolulu and Sydney using its Boeing 767-300ER aircraft seating up to 264 passengers. Hawaiian Flight #451 departs Honolulu International Airport daily at 11:50 a.m. and arrives at Sydney Airport at 7:20 p.m. the following day. The return Flight #452 departs Sydney daily at 9:20 p.m. and arrives in Honolulu at 10:10 a.m. the same day. (Sydney is 21 hours ahead of Honolulu and the flight crosses the International Dateline.)

Mike McCartney, President and CEO, Hawaii Tourism Authority, said that the HTA is working closely with partners in the visitor industry to help stranded passengers get home. He estimated that approximately 500-600 passengers in Hawaii are expected to be affected by the suspension of the Air Australia flights over the next three days. "We anticipate that other carriers servicing Australia will be able to accommodate the affected passengers," he said.
 
For passengers holding Air Australia tickets, contact the following airlines who are offering assistance:    
Hawaiian Airlines: www.hawaiianair.com
Qantas Airlines: www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/disruptions/global/en
Jet Star: www.jetstar.com
For information and updates from Air Australia, visit their Frequently Asked Questions at http://airaustralia.com/.

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