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Bonza cancels all Gold Coast–Darwin flights in December

written by Jake Nelson | December 1, 2023

Victor Pody shot this Bonza 737 MAX 8, VH-UKH, dubbed ‘Malc’.

Bonza has pushed back the launch of its Gold Coast–Darwin route by a month shortly before it was scheduled to commence.

The low-cost carrier was originally slated to begin flights from its third base on the Gold Coast to Darwin on 1 December; however, owing to delays in the regulatory approval for its wet-leasing agreement with sister Canadian airline Flair, the launch has been pushed back to 2 January.

Around 1,600 passengers are estimated to be affected, with 1,100 of these having been offered alternate flights to the Sunshine Coast instead.

“As we’ve previously shared our Gold Coast base is due to be operated by our partner Flair in the short term whilst we recruit Aussie crew for our third base,” said CEO Tim Jordan in a statement.

“This arrangement brings with it separate regulatory approval process with CASA. That process is progressing but is not yet complete and as a result, we’ve had to make the regrettable decision to defer some flights between Gold Coast and Darwin in the coming weeks.”


Jordan said Bonza is working to contact affected customers “as quickly as possible” to ensure they have time to make alternative arrangements, with customers to be contacted in date order of their bookings starting with flights on 1 December.

“We will work through refunds or some limited options to move to flights to/from the Sunshine Coast, however this process may take some time,” he said.

“We are acutely aware of the impact this has on our customers and we are very sorry for this.”

Bonza’s services to the NT have been aided by the Fyles government’s Territory Aviation Attraction Scheme, which offers airlines financial incentives to fly to the NT. In a statement, NT Infrastructure Minister Joel Bowden said the deferral of the Gold Coast route will not cost taxpayers.

“The NT Government is not subsidising or underwriting Bonza to fly to the Territory,” he said.

“Through the Territory Aviation Attraction Scheme, it is contributing to the aeronautical costs at Darwin Airport.

“These payments are made retrospectively based on passengers flown. If the planes do not fly, no payments are made. We understand Bonza has offered all passengers impacted by the delay of flights starting to Gold Coast either a full refund, or a move to flights to or from the Sunshine Coast.”

Bonza’s first flights between Darwin and its Sunshine Coast base, operated by the carrier’s aircraft as opposed to Flair’s, got underway this week.

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