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Joyce says Qantas will ‘defend our turf’ against Bonza

written by Hannah Dowling | December 7, 2021

VH-OQB takes of from Dresden on Monday, 8 November 2021, bound for Sydney. (Qantas)

Qantas boss Alan Joyce has said his airline is prepared to “defend our turf” against new market entrant Bonza.

Joyce said while the airline would operate within the ACCC’s framework, it didn’t mean his business wouldn’t actively take on Australia’s newest airline. “This is the most competitive market in the world,” he said.

Bonza broke cover in October to reveal a plan to fly “point to point” leisure routes not serviced by Qantas, Virgin and Rex with a fleet of two to three new 737 MAXs.

Speaking at today’s CAPA aviation conference, Joyce said, “I think the ACCC are one of the most effective competition authorities in the world.

“But at the same time, it doesn’t mean you can’t be competitive, of course you can.

“And are we going to be competitive, to defend our turf, and make sure that we offer the most competitive product and service and airfares? Of course, we are.

“I’m sure Bonza assumes that [given that] this is the most competitive market in the world.”

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Joyce noted that Qantas has continued to expand its network into new markets, particularly new regional routes, over the last 18 months and sees little routes left that are currently untouched by existing carriers – as Bonza claims.

“We’ve started nearly 50 new domestic routes. So I would have thought we have most of them covered, but maybe we don’t.

“So that’s great if they find a unique value proposition that they can make money on. Fantastic, fill your boots up on it, and shame on us if we’ve missed it.”

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Bonza announced its plans to launch next year in October, and later that month founder Tim Jordan told the Australian Aviation Podcast that 30 airports had already “responded positively” to a request to launch routes.

Jordan said, “On the morning we made the announcement, we actually sent out request for interest to about 45 different airports across the country, saying, ‘Would you like to be our airport partners? If you’d like new routes, probably not offered currently by existing airlines, put your hand up and let us know how you can incentivise us to do that, and we will bring you many more customers.’

“And I have to say, we’ve been very positively received by those airport partners. I think the last time I looked, more than 30 airports had responded positively already.”

Joyce was not the only one to play down the new airline’s chances. Last month, Rex deputy chairman John Sharp shared his doubts the business would be able to pull off its claimed launch in early 2022 – if at all.

Sharp argued that Bonza was still in the process of obtaining its Air Operators Certificate from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority – a process that he says, often takes in excess of 12 months.

Bonza founder Tim Jordan told Australian Aviation earlier that CASA was first flagged of Bonza’s impending launch in October 2020, which, according to Sharp, means the new airline could fall short of its planned inaugural flight in Q2 2022.

“Bonza is claiming that they will be in operation early next year – that’s only three months away,” Sharp told the Future Flying forum.

“And yet to do that, they’ve got to get a high-capacity air operator certificate, and you won’t get that in under 12 months – if you can do it in that time. And so, their start date I don’t think is ever likely to occur.”

However, optimistic timeline aside, Sharp appeared unenthusiastic that Bonza will make it off the ground at all, in light of the fate of similar potential start-ups.

“I’ve been in this game a long time,” he said.

“And during that time, every couple of years, somebody would come forward. Usually, they’re former employees of an airline or they’re a group of pilots who come together who reckon they can run an airline better than the management team.

“So, they come together, they put a plan together. It sounds great, they are very confident. They make lots of publicity, and then the reality of the situation dawns on them and they just quietly disappear.”

Like many who hear Bonza’s ambitious intentions to tap into underserved regional markets with its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX jets, Sharp questioned what routes Bonza could possibly be considering that the incumbent airlines don’t yet focus on, that can handle a 737, and that have adequate demand to sustain a new market entrant.

“That’s a mystery to us … what are those markets? If they are worth servicing, Qantas, Virgin or Rex would be in there doing it,” he said.

Comments (12)

  • AgentGerko

    says:

    I have no problems with any airline “defending its turf” but I do disagree with carriers who sell tickets at a loss specifically to put a competitor out of business, and then immediately raise prices once the job is done. Qantas has deep pockets and has done this in the past. My other complaint is when the newcomer finds a route not being serviced by QF but then QF immediately dumps unsustainable capacity on to that route, again until the newcomer fails, and then they dump that route again. They have done this more than once at airports like Newcastle and Wollongong. As a result, the regional airport that was looking excitedly at direct jet services ends up a with a few Dash 8 flights or nothing at all.

    • Bertu

      says:

      Qantas doesn’t OWN the skies of the world where it flies mate..No Airline company does..If it did it would control ALL airspace because they fly almost everywhere..THEN we will be paying Ludicrous prices to fly because they will have NO COMPETITION and can do basically what they like..This company takes the meaning of GREEDY to a whole new level just because they are HUGE.

  • Lynden Kemp

    says:

    So Mr Joyce is “going to war again”!
    I hope he wears his flack jacket and hard hat to avoid any further injury!

  • Nicholas

    says:

    Bonza or Bonsai??

    Suggested its the latter, take something big (their money and a few planes) and go into the low cost/leisure aviation business in Australia, and end up like a Bonsai tree after a good trimming, with not much left at all….

    Or will it be Banzai Banzai, crash and burn through that pile of money….

    Ah well will be interesting, might be an entrant that makes Rex look good….

  • Lindsay

    says:

    This ‘Bonza’ lot sound like a real mish-mash.

    Wonder if they’ll really ‘start-up’ at all, & if so, how long they’ll last.

    Of course QANTAS is going to protect their ‘turf’. It would be gross incompetence of them not to.

    Let’s see where all is at in a year’s time.

  • Gordon Farr

    says:

    How can anyone compete with the big predator?

  • Doug Bright

    says:

    Fine. That is, if Q doesn’t continue to treat its unvaccinated customers as second class citizens, as it has until now shown its inclination to do.

    However, Joyce has long shown that he only doesn’t mind competition as long as the dice are loaded in his favour.

    That said, I’m not that fond of all the small Mickey Mouse airlines that have popped up to date around the world, with silly names and often idiotic livery, especially when it becomes obvious at the outset that they are often grossly underfunded and incapable of operating aircraft safely over their lifetimes without deep cuts in maintenance or service, the former being of greatest concern to the average traveller.

    It’s time that in travel, as in politics, we weren’t eternally stuck with Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee for options, especially here in Oz where domestic pax/mile fares have always been exorbitant, and flying basic to Broome costs more than a trip to Bali with 3 days holiday thrown in.

    • James

      says:

      To drive down domestic pax/mile fares you need competition, how do you expect an airline to enter the market? With 50 jets and deep pockets? Even that will not impress Qantas. As long as you have a dominant operator holding 60-70% of the domestic market you will have high pax/mile fares.

      You said you are not fond of all the small “Mickey Mouse” airlines but don’t forget you need them (to be a success) to drive fares down. The only way to drive fares down is competition. Qantas are not going to lower fares because they love each and every Australian.

  • jarden svensson

    says:

    There are thin routes not yet served directly by the existing airlines. Cairns and Darwin to Hobart or Newcastle to Prrth come to mind but theses would be small markets and more suitable to a Ejet sized aircraft. You could add Broome, Port Hedland etc to East Coast cities as well.

  • Steve P.

    says:

    Easy fix Mr Joyce dont buy the 737 Max.

    • Vannus

      says:

      Really wasn’t an option anyway for QANTAS, as hold cannot take containers, & QF wants fast turnaround on their various routes’.

  • mike

    says:

    Delta needs a new partner

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