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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK
HK budget airline gets off ground
Oasis plane at Hong Kong international airport on Wednesday 25 October 2006
Oasis said it was shocked by Russia's refusal
The inaugural flight of Hong Kong's first budget airline Oasis has finally taken off, a day later than planned.

The flight to London Gatwick was meant to leave on Wednesday afternoon, but was delayed after Moscow held back its right to fly over Russian territory.

After hours of delay, passengers on the fully-booked flight disembarked and spent the night at home or in hotels.

Oasis has made headlines by promising low-cost long-haul flights while still offering in-flight services.

Chairman Raymond Lee said the firm had been "shocked and stunned" by Russia's withdrawal of its overfly permission, after a year of negotiations.

"We already paid all the money, had the receipts and the confirmation number, and this sudden cancellation... was there a misunderstanding?" he told reporters at the airport.

Compensation

He said news of the decision came an hour before the Boeing 747's maiden flight was due to take off, but the airline did not immediately inform passengers as it thought the situation would be resolved.

Oasis was given clearance late on Wednesday evening, he added.

"We've been approved from a very responsible and reliable source that we can definitely fly through the Moscow airspace today," he said, before the plane left.

Passengers disembarking from the Oasis flight after it remains grounded at Hong Kong international airport
Passengers received compensation for the delayed flight

The plane left for London's Gatwick airport at 1320 local time (0520GMT) carrying 300 passengers.

The passengers had spent some six hours on board the grounded plane on Wednesday before being told the flight was being rescheduled for the following day.

They were offered cash coupons and a free air ticket as compensation, Oasis said.

Oasis has promised to shake up the airline industry in Hong Kong and beyond as the first budget carrier to focus only on the long haul.

Seats in economy class cost from US$200 (112) including tax.

The airline also offers a business class, which it says is cheaper than economy on established airlines.

However, environmental groups have expressed concern about the trend of budget long-haul flights, and say that low-price fares do not reflect the true cost of the environmental damage they cause.




SEE ALSO
Regions and territories: Hong Kong
17 Aug 06 |  Country profiles

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