Budget startup carrier Bonza has announced a major expansion of its 737 MAX 8 fleet that will see it increase its aircraft from just two to eight within the first year.
The move significantly means it will match the size of Rex’s proposed 737 fleet, except its aircraft will be Boeing’s newer, more fuel-efficient MAX compared to Rex’s older -800 variant.
Bonza broke cover in October to reveal a plan to fly “point to point” leisure routes not serviced by Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin and Rex.
“This is another way in which we are focused on creating new market growth opportunities for regional Australian destinations, better connecting all of Australia, and in turn, stimulating direct and indirect job opportunities for the aviation and tourism industry,” said Bonza CEO Tim Jordan.
All eight MAX aircraft will be leased from Bonza’s primary US-based investor 777 Partners. Rival Rex currently has six 737s, with two more on order, though it is now predominantly concentrating on capital city, rather than leisure, routes.
It comes as Bonza continues its discussions and negotiations with Australian airports. The airline is expected to make an announcement in the coming weeks, solidifying its planned initial routes and aircraft bases.
Speaking exclusively with Australian Aviation, Jordan said that feedback from the 46 airports that Bonza has reached out to since October has been “very positive”.
“So we realised that the scale of the opportunity is very significant, and based on that, it gives us the confidence to make the announcement that we’re making today in terms of our growth plans, and our intention to grow up to eight aircraft in the first year.”
When asked how he can be so sure that Bonza will succeed in Australia, to the point of requiring four times more aircraft than initially planned, despite never having tested the model in the local market, Jordan said: “The rest of the world gives us that confidence.”
“We’re not trying to do anything particularly smart and clever, or unique. We’re actually just trying to replicate [a model that] has already been successfully executed elsewhere in the world.
“So that gives us that confidence.”
Without giving too much away, Jordan said the first aircraft deliveries are to be expected in early 2022 in support of Bonza’s ongoing process to secure an Air Operator Certificate, before the airline’s planned launch in the second quarter.
As would-be rival Virgin Australia continues to await its long-delayed 737 MAX deliveries, Bonza is slated to become the first carrier to embrace the 737 MAX for domestic operations after the aircraft was grounded globally for nearly two years following two fatal crashes overseas.
Speaking on the Australian Aviation Podcast in October, Jordan revealed that Bonza got a “phenomenal” deal on its 737 MAX jets, and hailed the aircraft’s “fantastic” green credentials.
Earlier, he shared with us that 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.
“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 8 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.
“We’re going to the market with brand new aircraft, aircraft which are all configured the same way,” Jordan said.