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Exclusive: Bonza closes in on launch with new 737

written by Adam Thorn | September 3, 2022

Bonza’s first 737, VH-UJT as it landed in Australia. It will soon be joined by VH-UIK

Bonza is edging ever closer to launch after formally acquiring its second 737 MAX aircraft.

Australian Aviation can reveal the business quietly registered the new Boeing narrow-body, VH-UIK, on Friday.

It means the airline appears on-track for a “late” September start to commercial operations, when it will begin operating 27 point-to-point routes to 17 destinations throughout Australia from its dual bases in Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast.

Bonza’s first 737 MAX, VH-UJT, landed on the Sunshine Coast in early July and is intended as a backup aircraft in its fleet, which will grow to eight. All will be leased from the operator’s primary US-based investor, 777 Partners.

It’s likely, therefore, that the new VH-UIK will kickstart the airline’s commercial operation in Australia.


Flightradar shows it has been flying around Seattle, near Boeing’s base, while enthusiast website JetPhotos has acquired the first pictures of it.

Bonza had initially been aiming to launch in the second quarter of 2022, but pushed that back to September.

When Bonza does begin commercial operations, it will fly so-called “point to point” leisure routes not serviced by the capital city focussed Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin, and Rex.

Bonza said 93 per cent of its network — 25 out of its 27 routes — are not currently flown 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.

However, its launch can’t happen until it formally acquires its Air Operators Certificate, which it is still yet to wrap up.

In May, Bonza hired Virgin Australia’s former GM of operations planning to lead those negotiations with CASA.

Michael Young has more than 35 years of aviation experience, including senior roles at Jetstar Japan, SaudiGulf Airlines and most recently, as the CEO of Tasman Cargo. It followed the exit of former COO Peter McNally in March.

Bonza said Young’s remit would also include flight and cabin crew, engineering, ground services, and on-time performance.

He’ll also be helping lead the recruitment of 200 cabin crew and pilots, ready for launch.

The appointment of a big hitter will be seen as a coup, given his six years in a similar position at Virgin and Tiger.

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Comments (2)

  • AgentGerko


    I can’t see how they can start operations “late-Sept” unless they want to operate empty as thats only a few weeks away and they haven’t even started taking reservations yet.

  • Craig


    It’ll be interesting to see how long it’ll take before they get their AOC.

    Until then, they ain’t goin’ nowhere.

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