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Exclusive: Rival airline workers apply to jump ship to Bonza

written by Hannah Dowling | June 9, 2022

Experienced pilots and cabin crew from domestic and international airlines are eyeing an opportunity to jump ship and try their hand with start-up budget carrier Bonza, according to its CEO.

Bonza is on the hunt for hundreds of staff ahead of its planned inaugural flights later this year, while local rivals Qantas, Virgin and Rex remain embroiled in tense enterprise agreement negotiations, many of which have already been brought before the Fair Work Commission.

Speaking exclusively with Australian Aviation, Bonza CEO and co-founder Tim Jordan said demand for jobs at Bonza has exceeded expectations.

The start-up had previously said it anticipated that experienced aviation professionals who had lost their job during the pandemic would make up the bulk of its applicants, however, Jordan said that workers that are still in their jobs, both locally and internationally, have “certainly” taken the opportunity to jump ship and apply for Bonza.

“We have applicants from all sorts of backgrounds,” Jordan said.

“Some who lost their jobs during COVID, some existing team members from other airlines, and some who were stationed at airlines overseas and are now looking for an opportunity to take a role back home.”

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“There’s certainly been some existing team members from other airlines reaching out to us, that’s for sure,” he added, noting that airline jobs at its hubs of Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast can be rare.

You can read our full chat with Tim Jordan here.

It comes as Australia’s other domestic airlines continue to battle against their staff over post-COVID pay and conditions.

Most recently, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) rejected Rex Airlines’ latest EBA proposal on behalf of the airline’s Saab pilots, arguing it would result in a “cut in real-term salary” of over 5 per cent. In response, Rex said the union’s stance was “beyond belief”.

Meanwhile, in January, Qantas made an application to the Fair Work Commission to terminate the enterprise agreement with its international cabin crew due to “unworkable” rostering restrictions coded into the existing EBA.

The Flight Attendant’s Association of Australia later criticised the airline for making the bold decision, without first attempting mediation or conciliation with Fair Work, and the two remain in tense negotiations before the Fair Work Commission.

This month, Virgin Australia tempted staff with two cash bonuses in an effort to recognise their efforts and the “ongoing challenges” of the COVID pandemic and retain employees on its books, following multiple allegations of a toxic workplace culture.

In late March, Bonza began advertising for over 200 pilots and cabin crew to man its initial fleet of five 737 MAX jets, after filling many of its higher corporate positions late last year.

Roles were on offer at both of Bonza’s aircraft bases, on the Sunshine Coast and in Melbourne.

Bonza is gearing up to begin flying 27 routes to 17 destinations around the country from later this year.

It comes weeks after Bonza hinted that its mid-year launch plans could be delayed until at least September, in an open letter to future travellers. The airline has confirmed that it now has a date set for the delivery of its first 737 MAX jet – a key step in its Air Operator Certificate application process – in the coming months, however this date is “slightly later than first expected”, hence the delay in its intended launch.

Penned by Bonza’s chief commercial officer Carla Povey, the letter informs travellers that they “shouldn’t wait” for Bonza’s launch in order to “lock in [their] essential July and August travel plans”.

“Whilst we can’t wait to save you the long car ride or the need to holiday at home, we’d rather be upfront,” she said.

After unveiling its plans to the world in October 2021, Bonza had initially been aiming to launch in Q2 of 2022. Speaking with the Australian Aviation Podcast, CEO Tim Jordan later said this goal had been pushed back slightly to “mid-year”, as the airline continued to navigate the AOC process with CASA.

“I know you’re keen to grab your cozzies and gather your rellies all for less than a tank of fuel. So, it’s only fair to give you an update on how we’re tracking. After all, you can’t be called Bonza and not be fair dinkum …” Povey said.

“We’re getting closer to take-off, which means we’re getting clearer on potential start dates. Having this locked in is key to going on sale with our first wave of flights.

“If we have more positive news to share sooner, we will,” she added.

Check out the latest edition of the Australian Aviation magazine for the full interview with Tim Jordan, where we tackle the business case for Bonza and ask if this start-up can defy expectations and prove its doubters wrong. 

Comments (6)

  • Craig

    says:

    Hmmm……the bosses’ of Bonza seem to be ‘pushing back’ its’ launch date further & further into 2022.

    There’re some reasons’ understandable, but they’ve still not released their routes or fares yet.
    Why is this? Surely they should know all by now.

    Maybe there’re other, more pressing reasons, undisclosed.

    • James

      says:

      Didn’t they release their route network a few months back?

  • Nicholas

    says:

    The operative words in this story being “according to the CEO”…….

  • Vannus

    says:

    Those at QANTAS, for example, thinking of ‘jumping ship’, would be wise to give much thought to their action.

    Other airline employees’ may think the ‘grass is greener on the other side’, but sometimes this just doesn’t ring true.

    A new start-up airline is fraught with immense difficulties’ until it can well & truly establish itself in its’ national business environment.

  • Clipped Wing

    says:

    While keen as a fly on a BBQ snag, maybe the Bonza team would have been better not having a start date considering they do not have any aircraft or Air Operator’s Certificate. Setting a date and then pushing back makes them look clumsy and disorganised.
    It remains to be seen whether there is sufficient capacity available in the market for four domestic carriers, let alone a fifth. History has generally shown that three (QF, JQ & VA) has essentially been the most the market has been able to sustain – And that was with VA slipping further and further into administration. With QF, JQ & VA ramping up their services, REX is struggling for numbers on their new services – Regardless of the spin Mr Sharp is selling.

  • John Phillips

    says:

    Out of the REX frying pan; into the Bonza fire?

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