Jetstar is offering discounted fares to passengers affected by Bonza’s Gold Coast cancellations as more routes are affected by the wait for CASA approval.
Bonza has already axed all Gold Coast–Darwin flights for December, with the route to now launch on 2 January. Other Gold Coast routes, including Melbourne’s Avalon Airport and Cairns, have been delayed indefinitely while CASA’s approval process continues for its wet-lease agreement with Flair.
The rival carrier is offering $117 one-way starter fares between the Gold Coast and Avalon and $174 one-way starter fares between the Gold Coast and Cairns for affected passengers. Those looking to claim the discounted fares are being advised to contact Jetstar’s Live Chat service with a copy of their original Bonza booking and cancellation notification.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and advise if there are additional alternative options for passengers impacted by other Bonza route suspensions,” Jetstar said on its website.
Bonza had turned to a wet-lease agreement with its Canadian sister airline Flair to launch its Gold Coast base while it waits for more airframes and recruits additional crew; however, CASA has yet to grant regulatory approval for the Flair-operated flights, forcing Bonza to cancel those already scheduled in the meantime.
In a statement, Bonza CEO Tim Jordan apologised for the impact of the cancellations on passengers.
“That [regulatory] process is progressing but is not yet complete and, as a result, we’ve had to make the regrettable decision to defer flights to/from Gold Coast to Darwin, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Avalon, Cairns, Whitsundays and Mildura, and are also making some additional cancellations for this week to other routes,” he said.
“The new start date for the impacted routes is currently being worked through, but we remain very committed to offering a service to these markets and deeply apologise for having to make this decision.
“At this point our priority is to inform our impacted customers as efficiently as possible so that they can make alternative arrangements. Customers will be contacted by us in date order (based on their date of travel) and will be automatically offered a full refund.”
CASA requires operators using wet-leased aircraft from overseas to integrate foreign aircraft and crew into their safety management framework under their Air Operator’s Certificates (AOCs) before giving them the green light to fly.
“Flair does not hold any Australian approvals. Bonza needs to demonstrate how they will integrate these Canadian-registered aircraft and crew members into their operation,” a spokesperson for the aviation safety watchdog said.
“This is an important part of Australian aviation safety regulations.”
This is not the first time Bonza has had difficulties relating to CASA approval, with its original planned launch in September 2022 delayed to January 2023 as it awaited its AOC.