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Bonza talking to 20 interested parties to save airline

written by Adam Thorn | May 10, 2024

Victor Pody shot Bonza’s 737 MAX 8, VH-UIK ‘Bazza’, at Melbourne Airport.

Bonza’s administrator has revealed it’s in talks with about 20 parties, including investors, airlines and travel companies, to save the stricken airline.

Of those, administrator Hall Chadwick added there are half a dozen “very interested parties”, raising hopes the carrier could continue with new investment.

If successful, an acquisition would mark an extraordinary turnaround for Bonza, which many commentators suggested was doomed because it currently lacks any aircraft.

Bonza entered voluntary administration last week after its fleet of 737 MAXs was seized by its lessors, cancelling all flights.

The fresh revelations were made at the first creditors meeting held on Friday to update passengers and businesses owed money by Bonza.

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The gathering also saw the first public comments made by CEO Tim Jordan, who apologised to passengers and staff affected by its troubles.

“Bonza carried nearly 1 million customers to 22 destinations, many of those being large regional centres,” said Jordan.

“We are hopeful of a positive resolution for the future of Bonza. It is most appropriate today that I apologise to our wonderful Bonza team and partners who’ve supported us on this wonderful journey and the tens of thousands of customers who’ve made forward bookings.

“To each of you, I would like to sincerely apologise.”

In total, Bonza owes money to around 60,000 people and companies. The debts include $5 million owed to 323 staff and close to $16 million owed to trade creditors.

Customers who want to cancel their flights beyond Tuesday next week, which marks the last day flights are technically suspended, were also told doing so was “their decision” because they may not be eligible for a future refund.

It comes after the first of Bonza’s aircraft, C-FLHI ‘Bruce’, left Australia this week bound for North America.

However, this was one of the two planes Bonza was dry-leasing from Canadian sister airline Flair.

The other, C-FLKC ‘Matilda’, had already returned for what was to be a temporary arrangement operating Flair flights.

The remaining four planes, VH-UIK ‘Bazza’, VH-UJT ‘Shazza’, VH-UJK ‘Sheila’, and VH-UKH ‘Malc’, are still in Australia as of Thursday, 9 May, though Hall Chadwick admitted this week that it would be unable to prevent the 737 MAX 8 aircraft from leaving the country if the lessors choose to move them.

“The administrators have been in discussions with the lessors of the aircraft in order to determine whether the grounded aircraft could become operational in the short term,” said Hall Chadwick in an earlier statement.

“The administrators have regretfully been advised that the lessors will continue to enforce their rights under the termination notices and, subject to their own requirements and arrangements, seek to reposition the fleet elsewhere.”

Hall Chadwick said it is “reviewing all available options to allow the resumption of the company’s operations” despite the setback.

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