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First Bonza-leased MAX, Bazza, leaves Australia

written by Adam Thorn | May 13, 2024

Victor Pody shot Bonza 737 MAX H-UIK, named Bazza, departing on its first flight from Avalon

The first Bonza-leased 737 MAX departed Australia on Saturday in a blow to the airline’s hopes of quickly restarting flights if it finds a buyer.

VH-UIK, named Bazza, departed Melbourne at 8:52am on Saturday and has since flown to Port Hedland, Kuala Lumpur and Muscat in Oman.

The news comes after the airline’s administrator earlier last week admitted to the federal court it was “not in a position” to prevent its leased aircraft from leaving Australia.

Bonza entered voluntary administration on 30 April after its fleet of 737 MAXs was seized by its lessors, cancelling all flights.

Shortly after the plane departed the country, Melbourne Airport said in a statement it was a proud supporter of Bonza and the increased choice it offered Australians.

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“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,” it said.

“Melbourne Airport is a major creditor, but with so many staff and travellers out of pocket we believe it’s appropriate that they are looked after first.

“As such Melbourne Airport has waived its right to payment before the departure of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft being stored here.

“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.”

The remaining three planes, VH-UJT ‘Shazza’, VH-UJK ‘Sheila’ and VH-UKH ‘Malc’, are still in Australia as of Monday, 13 May.

However, C-FLHI ‘Bruce’, dry leased from Canadian sister airline Flair, previously left Australia bound for North America, while the other, C-FLKC ‘Matilda’, had already returned for what was to be a temporary arrangement operating Flair flights.

On Friday, Australian Aviation reported how Bonza has revealed it is 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.

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

The gathering also saw the first public comments 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.”

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