Uh Oh-asis Hong Kong

I’ve been meaning to blog about these guys for awhile, but after their inaugural flight between Hong Kong and London was scrapped today due to the Russians, I figured it was time to start writing. (Sounds like an old Cold War novel, huh?)

Let’s start with the basics. These guys announced a few months ago that they were going to be a long haul, low fare carrier based in Hong Kong. You can see their website here. The idea was to get some used 747-400 aircraft and fly them to major destinations from Hong Kong for really cheap. The first route was to London/Gatwick, and as I mentioned, it was supposed to start today.

They announced the airline officially in September with two class service being offered. In coach, called economyOasis, they offer average legroom, personal screens running movies in loops, and two hot meals. The intro fare was a staggering GBP75 each way (about $140 using today’s rates).

In businessOasis, you get an old generation business class seat and presumably better service starting at GBP470 each way (that’s just shy of $900 today). It’s definitely a great deal.

There were conflicting reports as to how well they were selling initially (and whether or not they could even cover their costs with those fares). I had heard rumors that they were selling well and they were severely restricting the cheap seats, but those rumors were blown out of the water on October 3 when they put out a two week sale giving away all seats on every flight until November 30 at those low advertised rates. That tells me they aren’t doing very well.

Then we get to the launch from Hong Kong today. The plane is buttoned up, it’s a full house and everyone is ready to go. Departure time passes . . . still not going anywhere. Finally after a few hours, they give up and cancel the flight. Nope, it wasn’t a mechnical or crew issue. It was all the Russians’ fault.

Since I’m not Ian Fleming (the legendary James Bond creator) , I couldn’t make this one up. Even though the paperwork had all been filed properly, at the last minute, the Russians denied the airline the rights to overly Russian territory on the way to London. There’s no mention of why they refused them the rights, but it could involve some convoluted plot to destory the American capitalists. See, I told you I’m not good at making things up . . . . Seriously, it’s probably just bureaucratic politics at its finest. They’ll probably get approval soon enough.

If you go to the Hong Kong website (their UK website strangely has no mention of it), you’ll see this statement:

Oasis Hong Kong Airlines’ statement – Oct 25 2006
Hong Kong, October 25, 2006

Despite all approvals being received by Oasis Hong Kong
Airlines and all paperwork being in order, we sincerely regret that the
airline’s inaugural flight has been delayed by Russian over-flight authorities
for as yet unexplained reasons.

Further, we regret and apologise for the inconvenience
caused to our passengers and are doing our utmost to resolve the issue directly
with the Russian authorities.

Passengers have been provided with compensation &
accommodation and will be advised immediately the airline receives further
information on this matter.

Our shareholders and senior executives onboard the flight
deeply regret this unforeseen event and share our passengers’
disappointment.

Ok, that sucks. No question about it. But why can’t they just fly around Russian airspace until this matter gets resolved? There has to be a reason, but I don’t know what it is. Seems like that would be the easiest short term solution to avoid the PR nightmare that’s about to unfold.

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