Bonza has confirmed that its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft has landed on the Sunshine Coast on Monday morning, as the budget startup speeds towards its commercial launch in “late” September.
It comes after Australian Aviation reported on Saturday that the jet, VH-UJT, had departed Boeing Field in Seattle, and was making its way towards Australia, via Honolulu and Nadi, as flight AB001.
It also comes just weeks after the jet took its first flight sporting freshly-painted Bonza livery last month, as it was ferried from Southern Logistics Airport in Victorville back to Boeing Field.
“We are beyond excited to welcome our first aircraft to Sunshine Coast Airport and with so much buzz around the country for Bonza, we hope today is also exciting for the communities we’ll be flying to,” said Bonza CEO Tim Jordan.
Our team of legends have been working hard behind the scenes to reach this significant milestone and so it was important that we were all here to welcome flight AB 001 together,” said Tim Jordan, CEO of Bonza.
“We are now one important step closer to connecting more Australians with convenient low cost travel options to more destinations for holidays and to visit loved ones.”
Bonza is still in the process of securing its Air Operators Certificate, with the process expected to be soon wrapped up in light of the delivery of its first aircraft – a key step in the AOC process.
The airline appears on-track for a “late” September launch, where it will begin operating 27 point-to-point routes to 17 destinations throughout Australia from its dual bases in Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast.
After unveiling its plans to the world in October 2021, Bonza had initially been aiming to launch in the second quarter 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.
Bonza later hinted that its mid-year launch plans could be delayed until at least September, in an open letter to future travellers. The airline confirmed that it had a date set for the delivery of its first 737 MAX jet, however added that the date is “slightly later than first expected”, hence the delay in its intended launch.
Jordan said from here, the Bonza’s first delivered 737 MAX will see the completion of its interior fit-out.
“It seems only right that we bring home our first aircraft to have its final touches put on by Australians locally,” he said.
According to the airline, this first MAX is intended as a spare aircraft, allowing the budget carrier to minimise network disruption. It is not yet clear when Bonza’s primary jets will be delivered.
Speaking at the arrival, Sunshine Coast Airport CEO Andrew Brodie said: “The arrival of Bonza’s first aircraft into the Sunshine Coast is a momentous day for the region. We are very proud to be named as the home base for Bonza.
“Our partnership with Bonza will benefit the region, State and community connecting more people to more places, bringing them closer to the moments that matter most.”
Bonza said 93 per cent of its network – 25 out of its 27 routes – are not currently serviced by any other airline, while 96 per cent are not served by any other low-cost carrier. Flights are expected to cost around $50 for each hour of the flight.
Meanwhile, the airline has taken to social media to call out for assistance in naming its first aircraft.
“Who better to name our first aircraft than the people we are here to serve. If you have a nickname that would look good on the side of our first aircraft, head to our Instagram and Facebook pages and let us nick your nickname,” Jordan said.