Jetstar in Damage Control over Delay

JETSTAR International is scrambling to defend its reputation after problems with two of its four A330 aircraft left 300 Australian passengers stuck in Honolulu for up to 48 hours.

As the last of the stranded passengers arrived in Australia yesterday afternoon on a scheduled Honolulu-Sydney flight, the low-cost Qantas offshoot argued that it had spent up to $1 million trying to limit delays caused by the faults affecting half its fleet.

It said a review would investigate passenger complaints that they had been kept in limbo as they spent hours at the airport waiting for a flight home.

Jetstar's problems began when a flight scheduled to leave Hawaii for Sydney on Thursday morning Honolulu time (Friday morning AEST) was cancelled because the plane that was due tofly the route -- an incoming flight from Australia -- had not arrived.

An avionics problem in one of the carrier's Airbus A330 aircraft had combined with crew rostering and curfew issues to prevent the plane from leaving Sydney.

The airline eventually opted to book Sydney passengers waiting at Honolulu's airport into a hotel and put them on a service to Melbourne early on Friday.

But bad turned to worse when the aircraft sent to operate the Melbourne flight suffered a 15-hour delay because of a faulty fuel gauge.

''We've had really good solid performance with our long-haul operations since last November, and we just had one problem compounded on top of another,'' Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway said.

''We essentially isolated the problem we had on that Sydney-Honolulu return by utilising the Melbourne service and the likes of Air Canada. And we actually chartered a Qantas Boeing 767 on the Melbourne-Denpasar return service so we didn't have substantial rolling delays through our network.''

About 40 passengers were rebooked on an Air Canada flight, and the delayed second flight landed in Melbourne yesterday morning, allowing some Sydney passengers to fly home on a Qantas domestic service. The remainder came on the normal Jetstar flight to Sydney.

Mr Westaway said the delay to the Melbourne flight came when the A330's fuel gauge failed to properly register 13,000 litres of fuel in its left wing.

''It had to be drained -- Qantas actually had to get some personnel inside the wing to getit repaired, and that took asignificant amount of time,'' hesaid.

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