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Air Australia: "You Should Make Other Travel Arrangements"

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Earlier this week, we talked about Ryanair (RYAAY) CEO Michael O’Leary’s plan to add standing room spots on flights -- which, unfortunately, was squashed by Boeing (BA). Well, yesterday, a Pakistan International Airlines captain did him one better and put a pair of passengers in the bathroom.

Then again, at least in both of those cases passengers had seats. Or, well, spots.

Not true for customers of Air Australia, which this week grounded all of its domestic and international flights. The reason? No gas money.

Apparently, the airline, a budget Qantas competitor, has sold approximately one hundred thousand tickets for flights that, in all likelihood, will never get off the ground. Many of these passengers are now stranded, some in Australia and some waiting to return there.

So far, the airline’s official response has been that their call center will receive customer questions. As for actual help though, well, don’t hold your breath.

A FAQ on the current situation explains that the company has appointed a pair of voluntary administrators. In response to the question “Practically, what does this mean?” Air Australia tells customers:      

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.
You should make alternate travel arrangements.

To help out with this, Air Australia is nice enough include contact info for other airlines in Appendix Two.

Helpful as well is the company’s clarity on the subject of refunds. Basically, unless your credit card company provides them, you’re not getting one.

The Australian government has offered nonspecific help for stranded passengers. Qantas has also stepped up and suggested that it might be able to ferry people to their destinations. However, Air Australia’s estimated four thousand people stuck overseas will probably be best off taking the company’s advice and making their own arrangements.

Of course, airlines go bankrupt all the time, just ask American. And Australian airlines stranding passengers is also nothing new. Then again, considering the short notice, Air Australia could probably do a bit more for its customers.
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