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Bonza only told of 737 repossessions at 11:50pm on Monday

written by Adam Thorn | May 3, 2024

Passengers disembark VH-UJK ‘Sheila’ after Bonza’s first flight from Darwin to the Sunshine Coast. (Image: Bonza)

Bonza was only told the leases on its aircraft would be terminated at 11:51 pm 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.

The revelations were contained in the latest statement from administrator Hall Chadwick, which also suggested the airline’s directors were blindsided by the news.

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 subsequently emerged owners 777 Partners paid $30.9 million to Premier League club Everton hours after the budget airline’s fleet was taken away.


“On 29 April 2024, at 11.51pm AEST, the lessors of the aircraft leased to the Company issued notices to the company terminating their leases in place for the aircraft,” read the statement.

“Amongst various other requirements, these notices required the company to immediately cease to operate the aircraft and keep the aircraft grounded and safely secured.

“Whilst these notices were preceded by event of default notices issued on 17 April 2024, the directors of the company have advised the action taken by the lessors was not foreshadowed or expected.

“As a result the grounding of the fleet will continue at least from Friday 3 May 2024 to Tuesday 7 May 2024. Customers with bookings during this period are advised not to travel to the airport unless they have alternative travel arrangements.

“Meetings between the administrators, the interested parties and the lessors are continuing daily.

“During this time, whilst the Aircraft remain grounded, and there is insufficient cashflow and funding, the administrators are unable to recommence full operations.

“The administrators also have no alternative but to stand down the majority of the employees of the company, pending the outcome of these above ongoing discussions.

“Some employees will continue to assist the administrators with their efforts.

“The administrators appreciate this is not the news that the employees, customers, and other key stakeholders would like to hear however there is no alternative course of action available to the administrators at this point in time.”

Hall Chadwick later reiterated that issuing refunds to customers “cannot occur at this time” and passengers should “contact their financial institution to discuss available options”.

The revelation that directors were surprised by the news of the repossessions corroborates statements from Transport Minister Catherine King, who said she only found out about the groundings from the media.

“I think they also came as a surprise to Bonza because there were articles stating that the owners, the investors, had requested KordaMentha to come in, and that was not something that Bonza itself had been aware of,” she said.

It also backs up claims made by Bradley Davren, CEO of Bonza’s MRO partner AVCRO, who told Australian Aviation he believed the business was successful and was close to attracting a local buyer to replace 777 Partners.

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