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Bonza CEO takes 8-hour train to avoid $1k airfare

written by Jake Nelson | October 18, 2023

Bonza CEO Tim Jordan with VH-UIK ‘Bazza’. Credit: Peter Wallis

The CEO of Bonza has resorted to taking 8-hour train rides between Coffs Harbour and Sydney because airfares cost up to $1,000.

In a post on LinkedIn, Tim Jordan shared a screenshot of the flight cost and hit out at slot rules he argues make it difficult for his airline to launch services out of the NSW capital.

It follows criticism that the current rules for securing take-off times punish smaller airlines and allow Qantas and Virgin to ‘hoard’ the most lucrative periods.

“One meeting is very ironically with Sydney Airport to talk about access for Bonza at Sydney so that we can potentially bring low-cost airfares to 2 million more regionally based Australians in about 16 regional locations across the country and, of course, nearly 6 million residents in the Sydney basin,” he said.

“That’s potentially 8 million Australians (nearly 1 in 3 of us) with potentially more access to low-cost airfares to/from Sydney and consequently hundreds of millions of dollars of additional annual economic benefit (plus the social and community benefits).


“All that from Sydney slots that today go unused by incumbent operators (because they get cancelled, etc) and consequently produce zero/no benefit for anyone (excluding incumbents, of course).”

Under the current 80–20 rule, an airline is able to keep a take-off slot at Sydney Airport indefinitely as long as it uses it at least 80 per cent of the time.

The slot rules are necessary because two aircraft cannot simultaneously take off on the same runway, but have led to accusations that major carriers are effectively gaming the system to take advantage, though both Qantas and Virgin have vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

The Bonza CEO has been a long-time critic of the system, which he has previously called the “biggest single issue” in domestic aviation.

Jordan highlighted what he said were round-trip savings of more than $400 for passengers flying from Melbourne to Toowoomba, Port Macquarie, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Tamworth, Gladstone and Mackay, seven direct routes that Bonza launched this year and were previously not served by any other airline.

“These are very real and very significant savings when communities need them most, and we can do the same in Sydney in 2024 if only we could get access to limited peak slots required for SYD aircraft basing,” he said.

“Government certainly isn’t easy, but better utilising SYD slots surely must be one of the easier changes to make that will positively impact millions of us across many regions when Australians need it most.”

Transport Minister Catherine King last month flagged a possible review of the slot system ahead of next year’s Aviation White Paper, which was also a key demand of a recent Senate inquiry.

Sydney Airport, which has no say over the rules, also advocates for a change.

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