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Administrator can’t stop Bonza 737s leaving Australia

written by Naomi Neilson | May 7, 2024

Victor Pody shot Bonza’s 737 MAX 8, VH-UJK ‘Sheila’, in Melbourne.

Bonza’s administrator admitted to the federal court on Tuesday that it is “not in a position” to prevent its leased aircraft from leaving Australia.

Counsel James Hutton SC, acting for administrator Hall Chadwick, also said there is “still a degree of uncertainty” as to whether the carrier can meet existing contractual obligations and added it had “not had time to fully investigate” the termination of Bonza’s leases.

The submissions were made during a hearing to approve a creditor meeting with thousands of customers to discuss debt they are owed and possible next steps. It comes with reports the aircraft’s lessors could take Bonza’s 737 MAXs out of the country so they can ultimately be hired by other airlines.

Hutton said it is predicted that 20,000 people will join this meeting, including the thousands who were left stranded by the abandoned flights and those who purchased tickets to future cancelled flights.

More than 64,000 people were invited to attend via email, but only around 40,000 had opened it by Tuesday morning.


They were told Hall Chadwick had recorded them as contingent creditors “given the uncertainty associated with the ongoing trading status of the company and the ability to seek refunds”.

The court heard there will likely be an audio-visual meeting to accommodate such a large crowd, and there may be a moderated question-and-answer panel depending on the amount of interest.

There will also be an investigation into potential general proxies.

In the meantime, several legal issues are up in the air.

One concerns the aircraft’s fate, five of which are grounded at Australian airports. The sixth has already left Australia.

Hutton said if 777 Partners moves forward with its plan to fly the remaining aircraft out of Australia, the administrators are “not in a position” to bring an application to court to prevent that from happening.

Based on the administrator’s latest information, the aircraft could be moved out of Australia any time from Tuesday.

It comes after Australian Aviation reported last week how Bonza was only told the leases on its aircraft would be terminated at 11:51pm on the day before the airline entered voluntary administration.

However, the notice, which effectively meant its 737s would be repossessed, came two weeks after an initial ‘event of default’ warning was issued by lessor AIP Capital.

Bonza’s MAXs were reportedly repossessed at 3am on Tuesday before the company entered voluntary administration later in the day, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

It was later reported that Bonza staff were told they couldn’t be paid for the work they carried out last month but were also struggling to obtain government help because the airline is still an active entity and hasn’t been liquidated.

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