Page last updated at 08:49 GMT, Thursday, 10 April 2008 09:49 UK

Fuel bill blamed for Oasis demise

Oasis worker in Hong Kong
The airline said its business model had been popular with customers.

The soaring coast of fuel - on the back of record oil prices - has been blamed for the collapse of budget airline Oasis Hong Kong.

The firm's founders said that the decision to buy planes, rather than lease them, had also played a part in its being forced into liquidation.

Thousands of passengers have been left stranded after Oasis stopped flying.

It operated daily flights between London and Hong Kong and six services a week between Hong Kong and Vancouver.

'Funding impossible'

International Air Transport Association figures suggest that the price of jet fuel has risen more 60% in the past year.

"As oil prices sharply increased, the fuel costs took up the majority of our budget," said founders Raymond and Priscilla Lee in an open letter on Thursday.

An Oasis plane
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They added that because they were a new company, getting credit to enable them to hedge fuel prices was "next to impossible".

The firm's original business plan had been to rent aircraft, rather than buying them, the couple said.

However, the planes they were planning to rent were "snatched away" by competitors during wrangling over the carrier's start-up.

"We had to purchase aircraft instead of renting them. This placed a huge strain on the group's financial resources."

Strong demand

What we did not achieve was ramping up fast enough to get a critical mass of aircraft and destinations
Stephen Miller
Oasis chief executive

Oasis first flew in October 2006, offering flights from London Gatwick to Hong Kong for as little as 1,000 Hong Kong dollars ($128; 65) each way.

It later added flights from Hong Kong to Vancouver.

Chief executive Stephen Miller said the business model had seen a strong demand from customers, but this was not enough to keep the carrier flying.

"What we did not achieve was ramping up fast enough to get a critical mass of aircraft and destinations," Mr Miller told the Wall Street Journal.

KPMG, which has been appointed as liquidator, advised ticket holders to call 00852 3628 0628 or 0844 482 2323 for more information.

Fellow Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific is offering specially priced one-way flights for stranded Oasis passengers and is scheduling extra flights.

However, Cathay said it had no interest in buying Oasis.

The Hong Kong government has stepped in to co-ordinate measures to help stranded passengers and is sending staff to assist at London and Vancouver airports.

The final Oasis flight arrived in Hong Kong from London at about 0700 GMT on Wednesday.

Soaring fuel bills have forced other airlines out of business recently, including the Hawaiian airline Aloha and the business class airline Maxjet.

Oasis budget airline stops flying
09 Apr 08 |  Business
Aloha grounded by Hawaiian rival
31 Mar 08 |  Business
HK budget airline gets off ground
26 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific
HK budget airline returns from UK
27 Oct 06 |  Business

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