Bonza will work with its ‘sister’ airline in Canada on the wet lease deal that will enable it to set up a third base in the Gold Coast.
The agreement will see Flair aircraft and crew fly Bonza-branded flights in the Australian summer, while Bonza will reciprocate and send its planes and people to Canada during the North American peak season.
The news comes after Bonza surprisingly announced earlier this week that it would expand its operations by adding a third base in the popular Queensland city, which it will use to fly to 11 destinations from November.
However, it initially provided few details about how the wet lease agreement would work – an industry term meaning another airline effectively lends both an aircraft and crew to operate the service.
On Friday, it emerged the deal would be with low-cost carrier Flair, which is part-owned by Bonza investor 777 Partners.
“In the Northern Hemisphere, during the winter months, domestic demand is lower, but sun destinations remain popular, and the reverse is true in the spring, summer and fall,” said Flair.
“With that in mind, we have entered a strategic and reciprocal partnership with Bonza – Australia’s newest low-cost carrier.
“We will temporarily lease two aircraft to Bonza in late fall that will allow them to kick-start operations out of a new base for the peak Australian summer holiday season.
“This is a reciprocal partnership that both airlines intend to leverage for many years to come.”
Wet leasing appears to be becoming more prevalent recently, given post-pandemic supply chain disruptions that have slowed down the delivery of new aircraft to airlines.
Bonza’s move significantly follows Qantas signing a wet lease deal to let Finnair crew operate the Flying Kangaroo’s services to Singapore and Bangkok.
The codeshare partner will operate selected A330 flights from Sydney to the city-state from late October and all flights between Sydney and the Thai capital from March next year.
Captain Tony Lucas, president of The Australian and International Pilots Association, said the decision illustrates a failure of fleet planning over the last five years.
“It beggars belief that Qantas is outsourcing the Spirit of Australia while simultaneously converting two of our own A330 passenger aircraft into freighters,” said Lucas.
The deal will see Finnair’s own pilots and cabin crew operate Qantas-booked flights for the first two-and-a-half years of the agreement, but customers will receive the Flying Kangaroo’s own food and beverage service, amenities, inflight entertainment and baggage allowance.
From late 2025, the aircraft will be fully ‘dry leased’ for up to three years, meaning Qantas pilots and cabin crew will switch to operating the services.