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Startup airline Bonza hails 737 MAX before its Australia debut

written by Hannah Dowling | October 20, 2021
Proposed budget airline Bonza with its ‘thumbs up’ livery.

Australia’s upcoming new budget carrier Bonza has stood behind its decision to acquire brand new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, despite the controversy that surrounds the jet.

Bonza, unveiled to the world just last week, is eyeing to enter service in early 2022, with an initial fleet of two to three 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

The move will see Bonza become the first Australian airline to welcome the 737 MAX for regular domestic operations, after the aircraft was grounded globally for nearly two years following two fatal crashes overseas.

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Speaking exclusively with Australian Aviation, Bonza founder Tim Jordan said Bonza is “not concerned” about the Australian market being hesitant to the 737 MAX, and instead sees the jet as now one of the safest on the market.

“Just about every major regulator in the world has now given approval for the MAX to return to operations,” Jordan said.

The US Federal Aviation Administration gave Boeing’s embattled MAX jet the green light to return to regular passenger operations in November 2020, following a nearly two-year recertification process that involved extensive safety tests. Australia was among some of the last global regulators to re-certify the MAX, which it did in February 2021.

Jordan noted that come December, both Fiji Airways and Singapore will be flying the MAX into Australia.

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“So, it’s really not something we’re concerned about,” he said.

In fact, Jordan claimed that Bonza couldn’t be happier with its decision to initially lease two to three Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with the airline founder stating “the configuration, the efficiency and the availability of the MAX” make the aircraft an “absolute bonus” for the upcoming airline.

According to Jordan, most startup airlines often begin operating with a fleet of mismatched, older second-hand aircraft, however the current operating environment allowed Bonza to secure brand new 737 MAX 8s for a great price.

“We were initially setting out a business plan, and the lease costs involved to sustain our operations, we thought that we would be leasing used aircraft, maybe five to 10 years old,” Jordan explained.

“So, what we’ve ended up with is a far improved outcome.”

Jordan added that thanks to the ultra fuel-efficient 737 MAX, the company’s forecast fuel burn is set to be “significantly lower” than anticipated, and clinching a good deal means the airline can boast a consistent fleet right from the get-go.

“We’re going to the market with brand new aircraft, aircraft which are all configured the same way,” Jordan said.

Having such a streamlined and consistent fleet puts Bonza in a “wonderful proposition”, according to Jordan, “not just in terms of the customer perspective, but also from an efficiency perspective, as well as from a day-to-day operational perspective as well”.

“It makes for a much better product that we could have envisioned two years ago,” he said.

Should Bonza meet its early 2022 goal to enter the Australian market, it will become the only Australian airline to host the 737 MAX, with Virgin Australia delaying its delivery of 737 MAX 10s to mid-2023.

Meanwhile, Qantas has also flagged the 737 MAX as the potential winner in its upcoming narrow-body fleet renewal, however the Airbus A320neo family is also currently a contender.

Bonza is currently in the process of securing its Air Operator’s Certificate from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

The airline, backed by US investment firm 777 Partners, announced last week that it plans to launch as a brand new budget carrier in Australia next year. However, it won’t enter into the lucrative Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – also known as the Golden Triangle – market.

The business said fares will be up to 40 per cent lower than its competitors and would focus on launching routes in regional centres capable of landing a 737.

“Of the 15 largest domestic aviation markets in the world, Australia is the only one with just one low-cost carrier, being Jetstar, so that doesn’t sit right,” Jordan said.

19 Comments

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    As a firm advocate of the only thing one cant do is, slam a revolving door, I truly can’t see Bonza achieving much at all after the initial curiosity looksee. I appreciate that regulation these days does not please the ACCC etal but surely common sense must prevail and the authorities must seriously guide the intended operator to rethink it’s plans, maybe delay them for a few years when better measurable data will be available thus saving much trauma for staff and other support industries. From my observations, we may well see another of our airline operators entering turbulence penetration criteria quite soon, let’s not add to the drama now.

  • Faye

    says:

    Bonza haven’t even started and they already given me a very bad impression the 737 MAX should not be allowed fly that aircraft is flawed to no end

  • Adrian P

    says:

    What will be the ‘Upset Prevention Recovery Training’ (UPRT) be for a 737 Max?

    • Vannus

      says:

      Touché, Adrian P!

  • Bonza Airline Startup. If they wished a low running A/C they would have been wise to adopt the A220. They should take note of the folk who refused to fly in the DC-10 after it’s crash history and ultimate demise.

    • hdfgh

      says:

      Mike, who are these folk you talk about? The DC10 had flaws (which were fixed) and a few disasters however on a commercial level, it operated successfully for decades. A few are still in operation today.

  • John Phillips

    says:

    Recipe for disaster! Not so much the choice of aircraft, but the choice of routes.

  • Marum Katze

    says:

    Provided the new MAXs come with both attitude sensors and the warning light if they don’t agree there is no problem. That was offered as an option on the early Maxx Aircraft but was not ordered by anyone.

    This was what mad the MCAS lethal. The sensors were malfunctioning but no one knew. The SouthWest pilot knew, but that was never reported, hence the later crash on that same aircraft. (The SouthWest pilot probably was one of the very few with that knowledge back then. But SouthWest flew only 737s)

    Nothing wrong with the MAX Aircraft now.

    Happy flying….Marum.

    • Adrian P

      says:

      The core of the problem is the location of the engines relative to the airframe, this has not been addressed.
      Airliners should be inherently stable and not rely on software fixes.
      The Max is like an old broom that has had 4 new heads and 3 new handles, time to build a new one from scratch.

    • James

      says:

      You clearly know nothing about the 737 MAX

  • Warwick

    says:

    Don’t see it being stampeded with pax wanting to fly on the 737 Max.

    With two fatally disastrous crashes’ to its’ cv, no matter who says it’s ok, people will avoid it like….er…the plague!

    • Rocket

      says:

      Oh come on, the A320 is a wildly successful aircraft and it had a fatal crash the first time it was displayed to the public and it was due to the design of the flight control system and inadequate training.
      Once that was known and corrected, it has not looked back. No one has suggested the A320 family is unsafe!!!!!!!

    • hsf

      says:

      Warwick, there is absolutely no evidence to support your claim. Thousands of people are flying on MAX jets everyday.

  • DAVIES MJ

    says:

    Agree with you Marum Katze.
    1. Aviation authorities have been through this bird more than any other aeroplane that has come before it.
    2. If this aeroplane does not fly it will not be because of the technology onboard.
    3. Further, Australian pilots are some of the most highly trained aviators in the world.
    4. Recovery technique is a big focus as part of of the EP training.
    5. Airlines will not bring this aeroplane on line if there was any risk to safety and their own reputation. A start up like Bonza would be finished before it started so I would again suggest their scrutiny of this aeroplane for service here would have been foremost in their planning decisions.
    6. The DC10 was a great aeroplane that pilots loved to fly. It has given great service post Chicago and Antarctica. Lessons were learnt and notices issued to ensure those onboard were safe, as were the people under which these aeroplanes flew daily.

    Good luck Bonza. I personally wish you, your team and Boeing every success.

  • Mac Carter

    says:

    Agree with Adrian P.
    The aircraft needs to be redesigned to cope with the new engine size and location.
    Electronics are all fine and dandy until they stop working as designed.

  • Neil

    says:

    I would be weary about flying in the Boeing 737 MAX with all the software problems, supposedly being ironed out, as they say, with 2 fatal crashes.
    The Boeing 737-800NG has been a good workhorse of an aircraft but getting older by the Day. Boeing should never had built the Max, and should have stopped production after the Boeing 737-800,& considering it’s Airframe dates back in various forms back to 1967!

  • Tony

    says:

    Will never fly with any airline operating 737 MAX. The plane is badly designed using an old airframe with modern powerful engines. I value my life.

  • J G Ward

    says:

    Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar, Rex….and now Bonza. It is getting a little crowded in our skies and I fear that when the music stops not everyone will be able to find a chair.

  • Nicholas

    says:

    Listen folks, I don’t want to ignore all the hairy chested arguments about the merits or otherwise of the 737 Max, but think this will be the least of this mooted start ups problems.

    Surviving and other basic stuff such as getting good pilots, and then credit at whichever airports it fly’s to (if it does ever fly) will be more fundamental issues.

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