PHUKET: Australian tourists stranded in Phuket after low-cost carrier Air Australia went bust overnight last night are losing patience with the wait to get home, and some are running out of the cash needed to pay for their flight home.
Trevor Moloney, 30, and Caley Wilkinson, 30, arrived Phuket 12 days ago. They were supposed to leave Phuket on board the Air Australia flight last night scheduled to depart Phuket at 7:30pm.
“Our bags were already on the plane and we were about to board when they canceled the flight,” said Trevor.
“We were told they couldn’t afford to pay petrol bill,” Caley added.
“We got a room for a few hours to get some sleep before we came back to the airport. “We couldn’t get on to a computer to book another flight to fly home so we rang home to our families.
“We have now got a flight booked for tomorrow to go to Singapore for seven hours and then to Australia, so we will get home by Sunday night,” Trevor said.
Like thousands of other stranded tourists, the flight home has put them out of pocket.
“We have to spend a lot of money that the airline won’t cover. Meanwhile, the insurance we have won’t cover Air Australia,” Caley said.
“We haven’t heard anything from the airline and last night they just disappeared and no one from the airport even knew what was happening,” she added.
Trevor sees no point in pursuing compensation.
“I don’t think there’ll be any point in suing the airline. We’ll be wasting our time. If they’ve gone into liquidation that says enough. There’s no point in us trying to get any money out of them. It’s just a bad life experience isn’t it,” he said.
“Now we are tired. We just want to get away from Phuket and don’t want to come back,” said Caley.
Trevor, laughing, added, “It’s not Phuket’s fault, It’s all about Australian Airlines.”
Three students – Cara Ghiotti, Charlotte Grech and Samantha Gook, all 20 years old – need to get home to resume their studies.
“The flight was delayed for about five hours before they actually told us it was going to be canceled, so we were here for a fairly long time,” Cara said.
Samantha added, “We waited at the airport until 2:30am and then came back at about 10am this morning. We are so tired now.”
The young women also believe recovering their flight money is a lost cause.
“We can’t get our money back because they don’t have any money,” said Cara.
Michaela Colahan, 19, arrived in Phuket with a party of female friends on February 3.
“We had to get taxis back to Patong, but a lot of people stayed in the airport as they had no other choice,” she said.
“They just said they couldn’t put us up and sorry for the inconvenience. They were not helpful at all.” she added.
Phuket Airport Director Prathuang Sorngkam this afternoon denied reports that stranded tourists were kicked out of the airport in the early hours of this morning.
“The airport is open 24 hours. Some of the Australians stayed overnight here at the airport. It’s not true that anyone was kicked out of the airport,” he told the Gazette.
Yet the experience has left Michaela angry.
“I am really mad. I just want to get home. I would assume they would put on more free flights for us because we’ve already paid,” she said.
“I’ve heard a lot of people talking about money, that they don’t have enough money to get home and there’s a lot of young kids who did not expect to be stranded in Thailand,” she added.
“It’s hard to get in contact with home as we don’t know what’s going on, and they don’t know what’s going on, so it’s really frustrating,” Michaela said.
However, she added, “We had a really good time in Phuket. It was a perfect holiday until the airport ride home.”
At last report the Gazette was told that a Jet Star flight landed at Phuket Airport at about 3pm today.
The flight had room to take on board just 30 stranded tourists. The rest are still waiting to find a way home.
Air Australia had a flight scheduled to leave Phuket for Australia tonight. That flight is now cancelled, which only adds to the number of tourists left stranded in Phuket.
— Atchaa Khamlo
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