Bonza’s booking app has become the most downloaded on Android mobile phones in another sign the airline’s unique business model is working.
On Friday in Australia, Bonza’s app ranked above MyGov, WhatsApp and TikTok for free downloads on Google Play, the Google operating system’s rival to App Store.
It comes after the airline announced earlier this week it had sold 10,000 seats in just three days despite cynicism from major airline bosses that its plan to cut out capital cities would work.
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.
However, 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.
The airline last week launched its first commercial flight from the Sunshine Coast to Whitsundays, which also marked the first time a local carrier has operated the 737 MAX.
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 earlier this month.
Bonza said routes from its second base in Melbourne would go on sale “in a matter of weeks”.
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.