Bonza has hinted at potential expansion into the Northern Territory after Qantas said it would scale back its plans to increase capacity to the Red Centre.
The low-cost carrier told The New Daily that, following its operational launch in January, it is interested in servicing NT routes, with the statement coming shortly after Qantas cut 30,000 seats from its routes into Alice Springs and Yulara in the peak March-October tourist season.
“We are thrilled Bonza is now on sale via our Fly Bonza app, and our initial route map is only the beginning. In the future, we’d love to see our purple aircraft in the Northern Territory skies,” said Bonza’s chief commercial officer Carley Povey.
“To enable that, we need commercial terms in place with Territory airports that allow us to support the wider community and tourism industry, by giving them the ability to travel at low-cost prices.”
In a statement to the ABC, a spokesperson for Qantas said its NT capacity will, in fact, increase over coming months and that the national carrier anticipates being back above pre-COVID flying by the end of 2023.
“We had forecast higher demand on flights to and from Alice Springs and added additional capacity into our schedule, but given that demand hasn’t materialised, we are pulling back on some of these additional flights and will use smaller aircraft on some routes.
“Despite the changes, we are operating a similar amount of capacity from Alice Springs between April and October as we did at the same time last year,” the spokesperson said.
Bonza is the Australian domestic market’s first new high-capacity carrier in 15 years and mainly flies point-to-point routes between smaller regional airports, such as its base on the Sunshine Coast.
The carrier has 27 routes to 17 destinations earmarked in its phase 1 rollout and has also signalled interest in flights to Sydney, though CEO Tim Jordan told Australian Aviation last month that there are difficulties with this plan.
“There is an issue in terms of slots in Sydney and getting access to slots at the right time of day. And that is an issue that is more burdensome in Sydney than in many other locations.
“So those two factors cost the Sydney Airport and the slot environment for Sydney are certainly all key components inputs for us in terms of expansion,” he said.
According to Jordan, WA expansion is also a possibility, though engagement is needed from key airports in the state.
“There are a number of other regional airports in WA who [sic] are approaching us now directly. So that may allow us… to actually enter into the WA market when we’re ready to do so,” he 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
Melbourne to Bundaberg – 10 May – 2
Melbourne to Gladstone – 11 May – 2
Melbourne to Mackay – 23 May – 2
Melbourne to Mildura – 8 May – 3
Melbourne to Port Macquarie – 4 May – 2
Melbourne to Rockhampton – 11 April – 3
Melbourne to Sunshine Coast – 30 March – 4
Melbourne to Tamworth – 2 May – 2
Melbourne to Toowoomba Wellcamp – 17 April – 4
Toowoomba Wellcamp to Townsville – 19 April – 2
Toowoomba Wellcamp to Whitsunday Coast – 21 April – 2
Tamworth to Sunshine Coast – 6 May – 2
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