Bonza’s plans to launch in Australia are gathering pace with two more 737 MAXs being painted in its purple livery at the Victorville desert ‘boneyard’.
Australian Aviation’s eagle-eyed photographer Nic Hope snapped these pictures from the storage facility, which includes a two-year-old narrow-body registered as SP-LVN.
It also presents yet more evidence that the business is 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.
The aircraft appear to be originally operated by LOT Polish Airlines, which also ran Bonza’s first 737, UJT. It’s aiming for an initial fleet of eight aircraft.
Victorville, meanwhile, is located 145 kilometres north-east of Los Angeles, on the southwestern edge of the Mojave Desert.
Like many so-called boneyards, the facility is used by airlines for storage because its low precipitation and hot weather reduce rust, while staff are on-hand to carry out the maintenance tasks required to keep aircraft operational.
The site was the old home of George Air Force Base from 1941 to 1992 before being converted into arguably the world’s most famous boneyard.
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. All will be leased from the operator’s primary US-based investor, 777 Partners.
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.