Budget start-up carrier Bonza has expanded its planned network to include the regional NSW town of Tamworth, announcing new flights connecting the town to its hubs in Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast.
Bonza will be the sole operator on both routes after its planned launch in mid-2022 and will conduct two return services per week on both Tamworth-Melbourne and Tamworth-Sunshine Coast.
It comes just weeks after Bonza lifted the lid on its initial planned network, which then included 25 routes to 16 destinations, on its initial fleet of five 737 MAX 8s.
Bonza chief executive Tim Jordan told Australian Aviation that New England locals can now expect to save hundreds of dollars on airfares by avoiding transfers in Sydney and Brisbane and connecting directly to their city or seaside holiday destinations.
“You’re going to be able to go to Melbourne or the Sunny Coast in half the time and about one-third of the existing fares,” Jordan said. “So, that’s a game-changer.”
Jordan said Bonza’s team had been in communication with Tamworth Regional Council “for some time”, however, local elections took precedence over coming to an agreement in time for Bonza’s initial route announcement last month.
“A new council was actually just put in place at the end of January [in Tamworth]. So, keeping in mind due process … it took the appropriate amount of time for that to get across the line,” Jordan said.
When asked if Bonza will release additional routes to its growing network prior to its mid-year launch, the chief executive responded coyly saying, “There was a big first step on February the 15th. This is another good step. And I would be expecting additional steps in the future.”
Meanwhile, in a statement, Tamworth region mayor Russell Webb “warmly” welcomed the announcement of Bonza’s arrival to the region.
“These new flight paths will be embraced and celebrated, and are a significant link for business travellers, locals planning their next holiday or inviting family and friends to visit, and a new avenue for the region to welcome new markets of travellers,” he said.
“After a tumultuous few years for the travel industry, it is great to see Tamworth Regional Airport’s flight schedule revitalised with increased air services.
“This exciting announcement aligns perfectly with Council’s Blueprint 100 strategy, helping to create a prosperous region and connecting our region and its citizens.”
Bonza first announced its plans to launch as a new Australian domestic carrier in October 2021, with a plan to fly “point to point” leisure routes not currently serviced by Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin and Rex.
The carrier said that 81 per cent of its now 17 destinations and 27 routes are currently unserviced by any Australian airline, while 96 per cent are not currently served by a low-cost carrier.
Bonza said its future passengers can expect to pay between just $50-100 for a one-to-two-hour domestic flight, and encouraged future travellers to download the Bonza app, which will soon become an integral part of Bonza’s booking, check-in and in-flight experience.
“We want to embrace everything that technology allows us to do,” Jordan said.
“Plus, with both eyes on sustainability, we think whether it’s an in-flight magazine, or an in-flight menu, we’re not sure that that’s a great fit for us in our industry going forward.
“So, if we can digitalise [those things], it makes it more convenient for customers, it helps us, it’s more sustainable. It’s embracing the future.”