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Bestjet director had a family link to failed budget airline Air Australia

Bestjet director had a family link to failed budget airline Air Australia

Sydney : Online flight booking portal Bestjet — which collapsed last month leaving customers scrambling for money — was established by the wife of a man who helped run another failed airline business.

Rachel James is listed as one of three inaugural directors of Bestjet Travel Pty Ltd, which was founded on February 28, 2012.

Ms James is the wife of former Air Australia director Michael James.

Air Australia, a budget airline, folded in February 2012 with debts of nearly $100 million — including about $36 million that was owed to ticket holders.

Thousands of passengers were left stranded.

The application to register Bestjet was made less than a fortnight after Air Australia’s liquidation.

In December 2013, Mr James was banned from managing corporations for three years by ASIC over his involvement in the failure of seven companies in the Air Australia group.

At the time, ASIC said Mr James had “failed to comply with his director’s duty to act with care and diligence”.

Ms James ceased being a Bestjet director on November 2, 2018 when the company was sold.

Six weeks later it went into voluntary administration.

Thousands of customers now say their travel plans are up in the air, unsure of whether airlines will honour their Bestjet bookings, while others chase reimbursement from their banks.

Some Bestjet customers fear they could be left thousands of dollars out of pocket, including Cheryl Hendy whose family spent more than $16,500 on business class trips to Paris.

Lyn Riley paid over $3000 for a holiday to Milan.

A Facebook support group, the Bestjet Fiasco Action Group, has been set up for affected customers to share information about how best to deal with the enormous fallout.