Bonza is to significantly expand its operations by adding a third base in the Gold Coast, which it will use to fly to 11 destinations from November.
The surprise announcement will also see the new airline initially ‘wet lease’ two aircraft, meaning another airline will operate the services under the Bonza brand.
It comes after the low-cost carrier last month said it would axe five of its 27 routes just months after its launch in a move the business said would reduce cancellations across its network.
On Tuesday, Bonza said it would now fly from the Gold Coast to 11 existing destinations: Albury, Bundaberg, Cairns, Gladstone, Mackay, Melbourne Avalon, Melbourne Tullamarine, Mildura, Rockhampton, Townsville and the Whitsunday Coast.
The airline’s CEO, Tim Jordan, said the announcement would create more “depth” in the network by connecting existing Bonza destinations to the third base.
“New routes from the Gold Coast also mean locals from South Brisbane down to Northern NSW regions, like Ballina and Byron Bay, have the chance to explore their own backyard with low-cost flights to regional locations like Mildura, Bundy and Townsville, to name a few,” he said.
“We’ll be adding new destinations to our route map that will fly from the Gold Coast, and we continue to welcome conversations with airports around the country as we fulfil our mission to connect communities.
“Our focus continues to be on unserved and underserved markets that we know would benefit from low-cost flights.”
Eight of the 11 new routes are not served by any other airline, in keeping with Bonza’s point-to-point strategy that skips out major capital cities in order to fly from holiday destination to holiday destination.
The expansion will equate to 70 new flights per week and almost 700,000 additional passenger seats a year into and out of Gold Coast Airport. It’s hoped it will also create 100 direct new jobs, with recruitment to begin immediately.
Bonza currently has two bases in the Sunshine Coast and Melbourne but was forced to cancel five underperforming services last month.
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”.
As of today, Bonza will stop flights from Sunshine Coast to Coffs Harbour, Sunshine Coast to Port Macquarie, Sunshine Coast to Tamworth, Cairns to Mackay and Toowoomba to Whitsunday Coast, while other routes will have services reduced by one flight per week on days with less demand.
Three strongly-performing routes, however – Sunshine Coast to Albury, Sunshine Coast to Avalon, and Melbourne to Port Macquarie – will each have their frequency increased by one flight per week.
It’s the first time Bonza has adjusted its frequency and routes since it completed its initial 27-route rollout in May. One of the routes removed, Tamworth to Sunshine Coast, only launched on 6 May, suggesting it was significantly underperforming.