Bonza owner 777 Partners is staring down legal action in the UK from aircraft lessors over four aircraft leased to Canadian low-cost carrier Flair.
Three 737 MAX 8s and one 737-800 leased to Flair from a trio of Ireland-based lessors were repossessed last March over unpaid fees, which reportedly resulted in 777 Partners sending planes that had been earmarked for Bonza to Flair to make up the shortfall.
As reported in The Guardian, the lessors, Corvus Lights Aviation, MAM Aircraft Leasing 4 and Columba Lights Aviation, are seeking US$28.5 million from the investment firm, which includes interest, lost income, repossession and reconfiguration costs, and damages for breach of contract. They claim that 777 Partners has been ignoring their demands for payment.
“Despite being repeatedly notified of their financial obligations, 777 Partners have continued to ignore calls to settle outstanding payments of almost $30m,” they said.
“777 Partners cannot just ignore its financial and contractual obligations. This legal action is a last resort.”
For its part, 777 Partners, which owns a 25 per cent stake in Flair, has accused the lessors and intermediary company Airborne of “possibly abusing the English court system”.
“The English proceedings are likely to be the subject of a stay application given that the position of 777 Partners remains that it is at best premature,” the firm said in a statement.
“777 Partners remains supportive of Flair, the lessee, in its ongoing litigation against the egregious behaviour by Airborne.”
Flair, a sister airline of Bonza, is currently wet leasing two 737 MAX 8s to its Australian counterpart to assist with Bonza’s new Gold Coast base.
The deal is part of a reciprocal arrangement that will see Bonza send planes to Canada during the northern peak season when it has a large enough fleet of its own.
“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 in a statement in August 2023.
“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.”