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Feature: On board Bonza’s “game-changer” first flight

written by Daniel Croft | January 31, 2023

Bonza "Bazza"
Bonza’s second 737 MAX ‘Bazza’ awaiting the airline’s inaugural flight from the Sunshine Coast.

Having completed its highly anticipated inaugural flight, Bonza has set itself apart from its competitors as an airline driven by industry firsts.

This morning, Bazza, the second craft in Bonza’s 737 MAX fleet, took flight from Sunshine Coast airport, landing smoothly and without incident at Proserpine airport in The Whitsundays.

Australian Aviation’s Daniel Croft was invited on board to experience exactly why the airline is continually referred to by its executives as a “game-changer”.

Passengers were greeted with fanfare upon arriving at Gate 8 of Maroochydore, with a sea of purple surrounding the gate, made up of Bonza legends, media and excited fans. Out the window awaited Bazza, or as he is more formally known, VH-UIK.

“Today, you are flying with Bazza”, said Bonza CEO Tim Jordan, whose exclamation was met with an enthusiastic cheer.

Bonza CEO Tim Jordan
Bonza CEO Tim Jordan before Bazza took to the skies.
Credit: Peter Wallis


Bonza’s second 737-MAX took off from Maroochydore at roughly 8:35, arriving at Proserpine at 9:51.

The aura of excitement showed no sign of slowing down once on the plane, with discussions around the unique menu and comments on the Bonza “legends” uniform filling the cabin.

The seats on the 737 MAX were relatively spacious for a budget airline and donned adjustable headrests which made it easy to get comfortable.

The cabin fell silent as the engines roared to life. Once in the air, however, cheers and clapping reverberated off the walls of the plane. Bonza was officially airborne.

On board, the Bonza legends rolled out the new menu, all available for purchase through the app.

Featuring a range of craft beers, snacks and Aussie-themed food items such as banana bread waffles and a ‘snag in a bag’, Bonza’s menu reflected its attitude of supporting regional communities and businesses, all while keeping prices low for the consumer.

The two items mentioned above were $5 and $5.50 respectively, whilst beers were $9 — all considerably less than what you would find on other budget airline menus.

As part of its day-one sustainability initiative, Bonza has also ditched the disposable plastic cup in favour of reusable ones which are collected at the end of the flight. This keeps both costs and environmental impact down.

The app, however, was not without its teething issues. I was unable to use the app at all for in-flight services such as food and entertainment but instead had to access this functionality through the browser of my phone. This replicated the exact actions of the app and worked perfectly.

Being an airline of industry firsts, Jordan has said that Bonza is indeed going to make mistakes, but that it will also learn from them.

“We’re going to get stuff wrong, and we plan to apologize [sic] and learn from it, and try and improve. 

“That’s the way that we’re going to be approaching the market. And we believe that’s quite refreshing. ”

Bonza has been a dream of Jordan’s for a period of roughly 14 years after he stood “on the verandah in Yarrunga and looked skywards,” realising that most people could not afford to fly on the plane he just saw overhead.

Today, that dream became a reality, as Jordan reaffirms that the low airfares that start at just $49 are set to stay cheap in the future.

“These are not sale fares, they are our regular fares.”

At the core of Bonza’s low airfares is its dedication to just a few services per week per route, keeping load factors high.

Jordan says he considers the airline seat to be the “ultimate perishable item”.

“The low-cost carrier industry generally operates approximately 85 to 90%. I still look at that and go ‘oh my goodness, that is still one in seven seats which are empty’.

“You know, there’s not many businesses around the world, whether you’re Toyota or Ford, you don’t throw out one-seventh of what you produce out of the factory.”

How Bonza will change, grow and adapt over the coming years is hard to say, but its CEO believes that with the support of its primary backer, 777 Partners, the purple thumbs-up is in it for the long haul.

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