The troubled launch of Bonza’s Gold Coast base has sent it to the bottom of the on-time performance (OTP) table for December 2023 despite a strong debut the previous month.
Just 52.6 per cent of scheduled Bonza services took off on time last month, down from 73.3 per cent in November, while cancellations went from 4.2 per cent to 19.4 per cent. This was the worst performance on both metrics among all domestic and regional carriers for December.
According to CEO Tim Jordan, the OTP issues were a result of the “well-publicised delays” in obtaining regulatory approval for wet-leased Flair aircraft to operate out of the Gold Coast, which forced the low-cost carrier to cancel all flights out of its third base until CASA gave the green light on 19 December.
“Since receiving the necessary approvals, we’ve seen a substantial improvement in performance, with January OTP at 76 per cent and January cancellations at 1.66 per cent as at 21 January 2024. When looking at December, if we isolate the Gold Coast performance, our cancellation rate for the remainder of our network was 3.75 per cent,” said Jordan in a statement.
The result was a far cry from Bonza’s November figures, which saw it share the crown with Rex for best on-time performance in its first month of participating in BITRE tracking data.
“In the months prior to the Gold Coast base opening, we had excellent results with October marking a 0.3 per cent cancellation rate, September 0 per cent and August 0.6 per cent,” said Jordan.
“We’re working towards getting back to these figures, or better, and giving our customers the kind of service they deserve and we can all be proud of.”
Two wet-leased Flair 737 MAX 8 aircraft – C FLKC and C-FLHI – are now operating services out of the Gold Coast, allowing Bonza’s own four MAX 8s to continue flying the rest of its network, including services from its two other bases at Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast.
The launch of Bonza services from the Gold Coast to Darwin, which were due to start on 2 January after being pushed back because of the delay in CASA approval, was postponed again to 19 March due to capacity constraints.
The deal with Canada-based Flair – which is also owned by Bonza’s parent company 777 Partners – is a reciprocal arrangement that will eventually see Bonza send its planes and crews to service Flair routes when it has a large enough fleet of its own.
Bonza is expecting a fifth MAX 8, ‘Matilda’, to arrive early this year.