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Bonza set for launch with first 737 MAX service

written by Daniel Croft | January 31, 2023

Bonza second MAX, VH-UIK, named Bazza, lands in the Sunshine Coast

Australia’s domestic aviation industry is set for its biggest shake-up in a generation today as Bonza’s first commercial flight takes off.

Australian Aviation’s Daniel Croft will be on board the service from the Sunshine Coast to the Whitsundays, which will also mark the first time a local carrier has operated the 737 MAX.

Bonza is the first Australian operator to attempt to fly so-called ‘point-to-point’ leisure services that skip out capital cities and allow consumers to fly direct from holiday destination to holiday destination.

The business has said 93 per cent of its final 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.


You can listen to our exclusive podcast interview with CEO Tim Jordan, above.

Chief Executive Officer of Sunshine Coast Airport, Andrew Brodie, said that the launch of the new airline is a big leap forward for the local area.

“As the home base for Bonza, this is a momentous day for the Sunshine Coast as Australia’s newest low-cost airline takes to the skies on its inaugural flight heading to the Whitsundays, making this and other incredible destinations so much more accessible for everyday Australians,” he said.

“Bonza’s commencement of services signals a new era for our airport and the wider region, and over the next 12 months, we will see an additional 772,000 seats in the region, which will generate more than $86 million in visitor expenditure.

“Our partnership with Bonza is just the beginning as we look forward to a bright future and bringing even more destinations to our airport that will grow employment and tourism and unlock new market opportunities for business to explore”.

Bonza CEO Tim Jordan said the airline is aiming to mix high-quality service with low airfares.

And rather than waiting to order from a cart heading down the aisle, passengers are able to order on demand via the Fly Bonza app, which is also used for booking and managing flights.

“Our team of legends couldn’t be more excited to begin connecting Aussies for holidays and time with loved ones,” said Jordan.

“What better place to start than arguably two of the country’s favourite holiday destinations. Whether you are snorkelling the Whitsunday Islands or grabbing a cold one in the craft beer capital of Australia – the Sunshine Coast – we are humbled to take you there.

“Today’s milestone flight comes at a time where demand is high for Aussies to explore their own backyard.”

The airline was hoping to launch last winter, but waited far longer than expected to receive its crucial licence to fly from CASA, which came through earlier this month.

Bonza said routes from its second base in Melbourne would go on sale “in a matter of weeks”.

It currently has a fleet of three MAXs to service its early network, but plans to expand that to target eight as it services more destinations.

Its first aircraft, VH-UJT, was named Shazza; its second, VH-UIKBazza; and its third, VH-UJK, Sheila.

Earlier this month, Bonza CEO Tim Jordan told the Australian Aviation Podcast his airline would be able to keep costs down compared to its rival because it will operate the more fuel-efficient Boeing aircraft.

It comes despite fares hitting record highs due to a combination of high fuel prices and the industry holding resources in reserve to mitigate delays caused by staff shortages.

Bonza had previously promised fares could be as low as $50.

“We will be pretty close to the headline numbers that we put out there,” Jordan told host Adam Thorn. “We do have the most fuel-efficient and youngest fleet in Australian skies so there are absolutely benefits for us coming to the market with brand new aircraft.

“There is certainly cost of living pressures everywhere, and while that may have some impact in terms of the pricing, it’s certainly not going to be overly material.

“There is a silver lining to our business model in that filling up your car costs you a small fortune, which probably leads more customers towards flying.”

Premium Content subscribers can read our exclusive look inside the launch of the airline here.

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