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Sunshine Coast Airport backs Bonza amid route cuts

written by Jake Nelson | July 13, 2023

Bonza’s second 737 MAX, VH-UIK, touches down on the Sunshine Coast.

Sunshine Coast Airport has stood behind Bonza as the airline cuts five routes and reduces frequency on others.

The airport, which was Bonza’s first hub, will see its routes to Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, and Tamworth axed, while some other services will lose flights on days with less demand. Services from Sunshine Coast to Albury and Melbourne (Avalon), however, will each see an extra flight per week.

It comes after Bonza on Thursday said it would axe five of its 27 routes just months after their launch in a move the airline said would reduce cancellations across its network.

Interim Sunshine Coast Airport CEO Gary Allen said that he “fully understands and supports” the airline’s decision, which was made to boost reliability on higher-demand routes.

“We understand today’s announcements have involved some tough decisions for Bonza and these are not made lightly,” he said.


“The long-term success of Bonza is the most important thing, and by making these changes now, they are building the foundation for long-term sustainability in Australia.

“By focusing on routes that are experiencing high demand, Bonza will continue to build on their network and a consistent and enhanced experience for our respective customers.”

Allen also welcomed the news of increased services to Albury and Avalon “due to substantial demand and positive customer feedback”.

“Most routes from Sunshine Coast Airport are seeing strong, healthy demand, and these changes will help deliver more consistency for customers,” he said.

“With Bonza continuing to call Sunshine Coast Airport home, our region will continue to be one of the most well connected in Queensland and we are committed to continuing our partnership as we look to new opportunities and destinations.”

Tamworth was the last route Bonza launched from the Sunshine Coast, with the first flight taking off on 6 May. With the axing of this route, as well as Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie, Sunshine Coast Airport now has a total of 10 Bonza destinations.

The overall network change is the first since Bonza completed its initial 27-route rollout in May.

Chief customer officer Carly Povey admitted to Australian Aviation the decision to cut back services had been made earlier than Bonza would have liked, and added the company was compelled to take out routes where there wasn’t “sustainable demand at present”.

“When we look at that demand, when we look at the converse of really strong demand on other routes, and we see the reality of some of our reliability challenges and know that we need to solve for that within our four aircraft, it really just accelerates something that likely may not have changed, but is a decision we’ve taken a bit sooner than we would have expected we’d need to,” said Povey.

She added that 22 routes would remain and, where there is strong demand, the airline would start to add in additional flights, which she said was “very positive” at this stage of Bonza’s life.

In an open letter to customers, Povey said that “airlines the world over often tweak their schedules” and that the low-cost carrier is making the changes to improve its reliability on routes with higher demand.

“By removing some flying from our schedule, and going where there is demand, we are achieving two things. Firstly, the changes will allow us to build in additional spare capacity within our current fleet of four aircraft, so we have a buffer when things don’t go to plan (and they will by virtue of being an airline),” she said.

“Secondly, by focusing on routes that are performing very well, we’re also taking decisive action by going where the demand is and in turn, setting Bonza up for the long haul – because competition in the airline industry is a good thing and the demand for Bonza is clear.”

The move also comes after CEO Tim Jordan hinted to Australian Aviation earlier this year he would have no hesitancy to remove underperforming routes.

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