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Bonza readies for launch as latest MAX touches down

written by Adam Thorn | December 12, 2022

Bonza appears to only be waiting for clearance from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to launch after its third 737 MAX touched down on the Sunshine Coast on Monday.

The airline said the arrival of VH-UJK, dubbed ‘Sheila’, meant it had completed the “family of initial aircraft” to be based in Queensland, with two more 737s set for its second base in Melbourne.

The airline was hoping to begin operations in September but is unable to do so until it receives the crucial Air Operators Certificate, which it’s still yet to receive.

Bonza’s chief commercial officer, Carly Povey, said, “Whilst respecting the regulatory process, the airline continues with its readiness activities in anticipation of connecting communities through low-cost flights.”


Bonza initially planned to launch with a fleet of two to three MAXs before increasing its ambitions to target having eight.

Nonetheless, a fleet of three would likely be enough for it to begin operating some of its planned 27 routes in a staggered start.

When Bonza does begin commercial operations, it will fly so-called ‘point-to-point’ leisure services not serviced by the capital city-focused 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.

Its first aircraft, VH-UJT, now known as Shazza, and second, VH-UIK, now known as Bazza, have already arrived in Australia.

Bonza has also quietly registered a fourth 737 MAX with CASA, VH-UJZ, likely to be based in Melbourne next year.

A ‘fifth’ aircraft, VH-UBI, has now been removed from the register, but is now thought to be in Tucson in Arizona.

In September, we published exclusive photos that showed two of its 737 MAXs were being painted in its purple livery at the Victorville desert ‘boneyard’.

The aircraft appeared to be originally operated by LOT Polish Airlines, which also ran Bonza’s first 737.

Bonza’s launch is waiting on it obtaining the Air Operators Certificate, and the airline in May hired Virgin Australia’s former GM of operations planning to lead the negotiations.

The business 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.

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

Destinations on Bonza’s initial route map include Melbourne, Avalon, Sunshine Coast, Mildura, Albury, Cairns, Coffs Harbour, Mackay, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Rockhampton, Tamworth, Townsville, Whitsunday Coast, Bundaberg, Gladstone, and Toowoomba.

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