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Bonza blames pilot shortage for leaving passengers stranded

written by Jake Nelson | June 29, 2023

Victor Pody shot Bonza 737 MAX H-UIK, named Bazza, departing on its first flight from Avalon.

Bonza has blamed the industry’s ongoing talent shortage for a rash of cancellations that have left passengers stranded.

The low-cost carrier’s problems are compounded because it mostly flies ‘low frequency’ routes not serviced by its rivals – meaning customers often struggle to find alternative transport home.

It comes weeks after Rex blamed a shortage of pilots and engineers for issuing profit guidance predicting an operational loss of $35 million and for grounding multiple services.

In addition to scrapping past services, Bonza has cancelled at least seven future flights, with customers finding out weeks in advance.

However, the ACCC found in its June report that Bonza’s cancellation rate for April 2023 was around 0.5 per cent, the lowest of all airlines measured and well below the worst offender, Jetstar, which sat at around eight per cent.


In a statement, Bonza chief commercial officer Carly Povey said that, while customer feedback has largely been positive, the airline’s cancellation rate is “too high”.

“In the past couple of months, not everyone has had a good experience with Bonza, and we need to stare directly into why that is,” she said.

“We’ve recently been challenged with crew shortages, specifically, pilot shortages due to a delay in our inflight pilot training program.

“These issues were due to the knock-on impact of a number of maintenance issues, in particular bird strikes, leading to two aircraft unusable and on ground for a significant number of days.

“Clearly, training is dependent on flying, and sadly there is a direct correlation between the two issues. This has led to regrettable cancellations for customers.”

Povey has promised customers that the carrier will do its best to improve reliability.

“What customers can expect in the coming weeks and months is for our operations to stabilise. We will be working extra hard to earn the respect of the communities that we serve,” she said.

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 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.

The airline wrapped up its initial 27-route network rollout last month with the launch of its Melbourne-Mackay service.

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