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Airports back Bonza despite being owed millions

written by Jake Nelson | May 14, 2024

Passengers disembark Bonza’s 737 MAX 8, VH-UKH “Malc”, at Sunshine Coast Airport. (Image: SCA)

Airports have expressed sympathy with Bonza and suggested they would welcome the airline back if its administrators can save it, despite being collectively owed millions in unpaid fees.

Bonza remains in voluntary administration as Hall Chadwick searches for a buyer for the stricken low-cost carrier, which owes around $100 million in unpaid debts, including $5 million owed to 323 staff and close to $16 million owed to trade creditors.

James Goodwin, chief executive of the Australian Airports Association (AAA), told Australian Aviation the association understands Bonza owes “at least $10 million in unpaid aeronautical and terminal charges”.

“Airports around the country welcomed the introduction of Bonza and held high hopes for its potential impact on a highly concentrated domestic aviation market,” he said.

“Many airports provided a range of incentives to provide the best opportunity for Bonza to gain a foothold in the aviation market including investing in upgrades or changes to runways, aprons, and terminal infrastructure.


“Bonza entering receivership is a situation not dissimilar to that encountered by airports four years ago when Virgin Australia went into receivership, leaving airports across Australia as unsecured creditors with unpaid debts of approximately $50 million for Virgin’s landing fees, terminal services and security screening.”

Goodwin told Australian Aviation that the AAA would welcome a Bonza comeback, but “can see the challenges of that happening”.

“It’s hoped other airlines might start operating Bonza routes so those communities can continue to be served by air travel,” he said.

A spokesperson for Sunshine Coast Airport, which was Bonza’s first base, said the airport has “strongly supported [the airline] in its mission to provide more affordable air travel to Australians” from day one and will continue to work with administrators.

“SCA is a creditor and shares the community’s disappointment regarding Bonza entering into voluntary administration,” they said.

“Sunshine Coast Airport would welcome the opportunity to work with Bonza again if the opportunity arises, or any other new entrants for that matter, to enable more choices for travel to and from the Sunshine Coast.”

Over the weekend, Bonza’s 737 MAX 8 “Bazza” departed Melbourne after the airport waived its right to be paid before the plane left. A spokesperson said Melbourne Airport “has been a proud supporter of Bonza and the increased choice it offered Australians”.

“Over the past two years, we have provided significant help to the airline, and in recent months, our team has bent over backwards to keep Bonza in the air,” they said.

“While we are disappointed to see the purple tails disappear from Melbourne Airport, we remain willing to work with Bonza’s administrators, our other airline partners or any future new entrants to facilitate more choice for Australian travellers.”

Gold Coast Airport, Bonza’s third base, declined to comment.

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