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Bonza now likely to launch mid-year, says CEO

written by Hannah Dowling | February 21, 2022

The chief executive of start-up airline Bonza now thinks the carrier will likely begin operations in mid-2022.

Tim Jordan said that while it was still a “possibility” it could start flying late in the second quarter, its progress would depend on how quickly it can pass regulatory requirements with CASA.

Jordan was speaking exclusively on a special episode of the Australian Aviation Podcast, which you can listen to above, where he gave more details on the airline’s previously secret plans to operate 25 routes across 16 destinations in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. Bonza is unique in that most of its services are so-called “point-to-point” leisure routes, rather than flying between, or to, capital cities.

When asked by host Hannah Dowling what the next steps would be after the early rollout, Jordan said, “More of the same. We’re still missing some major cities and some major route opportunities, and a number of states and territories that weren’t mentioned at all yesterday.

“We can’t say we’re here for all of Australia but not fulfil that promise.”

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In that episode, Jordan also revealed he would walk away from airports that don’t come to the negotiating table on fees.

He said the charges are the “single, largest cost” for airlines, and airports that want to benefit from Bonza’s low-cost leisure customers will need to be competitive.

“I don’t think there’s a realisation out there amongst the public as to how much it actually costs for you to have the pleasure of walking through an airport,” Jordan said.

“What I can say is that all of the destinations that we announced yesterday, they get it. They get the fact that we’re doing something very different in the Australian marketplace.”

Jordan said that the commercial agreements negotiated between Bonza and airports are crucial to Bonza’s ultra-low-cost base and will therefore be crucial to whether or not the carrier will opt to fly to those airports.

“Really low fares don’t happen under the off-the-shelf pricing of airports, and we can’t work with that level of pricing for our business model.

“So yes, we have an intention of going across the country, in terms of serving all states in all territories, however, the onus is on the airports to get necessary pricing to support price-simulated travel.

“If there’s a capital city with an airport that’s going to say, ‘Well, our pricing is our pricing, bad luck, take it or leave it’, I actually think that those communities will be pretty unhappy with those airports.

“Because they’re going to miss out on what will be price-stimulated travel. And that’s really great for tourism, and markets into and out of those particular cities.”

Jordan said if airports won’t drop to a competitive level, that “it would be wrong” for Bonza to operate there, “knowing that we’re going to fail”.

“If we can’t get the necessary pricing model, we’d rather not do it. We can deploy it elsewhere. We’re not short of choices.”

Jordan noted that nearly all of the 46 airports that Bonza reached out to ahead of its grand unveiling last October responded, however, did so with differing levels of “enthusiasm”, which made an impact on which routes the carrier plans to start operations with.

One notable exclusion from Bonza’s initial route network is Sydney, with Jordan stating that slot rules and allocations in Australia’s largest airport being an “added complication” for Bonza.

“I think that’s an impediment for new entrants like ourselves, for sure. So that is a consideration, and it’s a consideration which isn’t a factor in essentially the rest of our network, to be quite honest.”

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