(dpa) - Hong Kong's first long-haul budget airline, Oasis, went into voluntary liquidation Wednesday, 18 months after its launch, throwing the plans of thousands of travellers into chaos.
The airline, which offered fares of as little as 1,000 Hong Kong dollars (128 US dollars) between London and Hong Kong, suspended all flights as the announcement was made.
Oasis chief executive Steve Miller announced that the airline, which also flies to Vancouver, had been put in the hands of accounting firm KPMG after going in into voluntary liquidation.
"We have suspended all passenger services with immediate effect," Miller said. "KPMG will be looking for new investors for the airline in the next few days and we are very confident that somebody will come forward."
Phone lines to the airline were jammed as anxious ticket holders phoned in an attempt to find out whether their bookings were still valid.
Airline sources said the firm was liaising with other Hong Kong-based airlines to transfer passengers booked on to flights due to take off in the next two days.
Oasis caused a sensation in Hong Kong's aviation industry when it began operating two Boeing 747 planes in October 2006, flying between Hong Kong and London.
Within a year, it had five Boeing 747 planes in operation and boasted that in its first year it flew 250,000 passengers between London and Hong Kong. It began flights to Vancouver last June.
It was voted the world's leading new airline in December at the World Travel Awards, which have been called the travel industry's equivalent of the Oscars.
Thousands of passengers who have advance ticket bookings on Oasis should be eligible for refunds through government insurance schemes included in ticket purchase prices.