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Still stranded, Bill Tehan looks for a way out of his Phuket holiday

Phuket Logjam Could Strand Aussie Passengers for Up To a Week

Friday, February 17, 2012
PHUKET: That chap on the left in the photo is Bill Tehan, and we met him early this morning as he struggled to get his family home from their Phuket holiday.

At that stage, he was queuing in hope without tickets for a Jetstar flight to Singapore that would have connected, after an eight-hour transit wait, with a flight to Melbourne and close to home.

However, the photo shows that Bill didn't have any luck, so many hours later he's back into the ruck of Aussies at Phuket airport growing increasingly keen on getting home.

Bill is unlikely to be any happier than he was this morning, given that the failure of Air Australia leaves him having to pay for fresh fares home for himself, his wife, his sister-in-law and his 11-year-old daughter Amber.

We can't say when Bill and his family will be flying, and there will be hundreds of other Aussies over the next week struggling to find alternative routes home - at their own added expense.

We know of others who have booked flights on Air Australia weeks from now off Phuket who will never see the flight or the money they've already spent on the fare.

A spokesperson for the administrators in Australia said today that 4000 people are stranded overseas and about 100,000 tickets are probably worthless.

The Australian Embassy and Jetstar were flying teams from Bangkok this afternoon to ease the pain. Australia's honorary consul on Phuket, Larry Cunningham, was already at Phuket International Airport, offering advice where he could.

Basically, it's a race to find alternatives - at your own cost. In Bill Tehan's case, that's four fares, and an extremely unhappy ending to a Phuket holiday for the family from Seabrook, near Point Cook and not far from Melbourne.

The Jetstar ''help'' desk will be offering fresh seats to the Air Australia passengers - but at the same fare as they have already paid.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Phuket director Bangornrat Shinaprayoon was on her way to Phuket Internatonal Airport to offer assistance wheref it was needed, but most of the tourists from here on are expected to be looking for a plane seat.

Those who were caught last night when Air Australia went into adminstration and failed to pay for its fuel on a flight from Phuket had mostly made other arrangements.

Bill and his family are among those who were waiting at Phuket airport last night for a flight that was never leaving, and they're back enduring another long wait today.

The logjam of cancelled Air Australia flights comes during a record high season so the crush could leave them trapped on Phuket for days - and possibly a week, if they are very unlucky.

Bill Tehan, we hope you make it out soon. If not tonight, then tomorrow, or the next day . . .

And we hope that somewhere in the Australian government, which has so far failed to show much sympathy, someone is reading this.

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