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.
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.
“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.
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“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.
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