Bonza on Tuesday continued the staggered rollout of its early network after launching its third route from its base in the Sunshine Coast to Avalon.
The airline’s 737 MAX, VH-UIK, named Bazza, departed at 9:55am as flight AB569 and landed at 1:06pm.
Bonza’s first service between the Sunshine Coast and Whitsundays began on 31 January, and it will next begin flights to Townsville on 22 February. Its full launch schedule is at the bottom of this article.
In a new update, the business also confirmed on Tuesday that flights from its second base of Melbourne Airport, which includes a further 12 routes, would go on sale later this week via its app.
“Today is a significant milestone as we get wheels up into Victoria for the first time,” said Bonza CEO Tim Jordan.
“South East Queenslanders can now fly direct to Avalon for a wide range of holiday experiences in Melbourne, Geelong, the Surf Coast and the Great Ocean Road.
“Likewise, Victorians can now fly direct from Avalon to the Sunshine Coast to visit loved ones and take a well-earned break.”
The three-times-weekly service went on sale last month, with prices starting at just $79.
Bonza is the first Australian operator to attempt to fly so-called “point-to-point” leisure services that skip out major 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.
Bonza was hoping to begin flying last winter but waited far longer than expected to receive its crucial licence to fly from CASA, which came through in early January.
The airline appears to have made a success of its launch, announcing it had sold 10,000 seats after just three days on sale.
It came despite Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce and other senior figures in the industry publicly doubting there would be demand for such a service in Australia.
In 2021, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce cast doubts on whether such a model could work.
“We’ve started nearly 50 new domestic routes,” said Joyce. “So I would have thought we have most of them covered, but maybe we don’t. So that’s great if they find a unique value proposition that they can make money on. Fantastic, fill your boots up on it, and shame on us if we’ve missed it.”
He added his airline would “defend our turf” against the new entrant and labelled the Australian domestic industry as the “most competitive market in the world”.
Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka was also sceptical about Bonza’s business model.
“If you’re connecting two cities that have never seen a connection before, if you’re flying it twice a week, it’s very hard to build an underlying presence in that marketplace,” Hrdlicka told The Australian.
“The way that’s done in Europe and in the US and Canada, it’s a huge market with millions and millions of people, and you can approach that with group tours and things like that which don’t really exist in the same way in Australia.”
Ultimately, Hrdlicka called Bonza’s strategy an “interesting idea” and “a different approach”.
Rex deputy chairman John Sharp similarly questioned which routes Bonza could introduce that would both be profitable and unserved by its rivals.
“That’s a mystery to us … what are those markets? If they are worth servicing, Qantas, Virgin or Rex would be in there doing it,” Sharp said.
You can listen to our exclusive podcast interview with CEO Tim Jordan, above, and premium content subscribers can read our exclusive look inside the launch of the airline here.
Route / launch date / flights per week
Sunshine Coast to Albury – 7 April – 2
Sunshine Coast to Avalon – 21 February – 3
Sunshine Coast to Cairns – 27 March – 5
Sunshine Coast to Coffs Harbour – 20 April – 2
Sunshine Coast to Mackay – 14 February – 3
Sunshine Coast to Mildura – 4 April – 2
Sunshine Coast to Newcastle – 28 March – 4
Sunshine Coast to Port Macquarie – 12 April – 2
Sunshine Coast to Rockhampton – 13 March – 3
Sunshine Coast to Townsville – 22 February – 4
Sunshine Coast to Whitsunday Coast – 31 January – 3
Cairns to MacKay – 29 March – 2
Cairns to Rockhampton – 31 March – 2
Newcastle to Whitsunday Coast – 30 March – 2
Rockhampton to Townsville – 24 February – 3