Bonza, Australia’s new low-cost airline, has gained regulatory approval and its first flight will take off on Tuesday 31 January from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Airport (MCY) to the Whitsunday Coast, showcasing one of Australia’s most spectacular coastal destinations.
With airfares at a 2o year high in Australia, Bonza is the first new carrier since Tigerair launched 15 years ago. The Sunshine Coast based operator will be the country’s only independent budget airline.
Federal transport minister, Catherine King, called the news “a welcome milestone for Bonza and for Australian aviation as the sector continues its recovery from the Covid pandemic.” She expressed hopes that Bonza would “boost competition in the Australian aviation sector, offering more choice to the travelling public and putting downward pressure on fares.”
The launch comes after rigorous safety checks and viability testing. Tim Jordan, Bonza’s chief executive, said it represented “a historic moment for Australian aviation.”
Demand for domestic travel is high and Aussies deserve for travel to be a basic right for many, not a luxury for the few. This has never been truer with today’s cost of living challenges.Tim Jordan, Bonza’s chief executive
Tickets will only be available via Bonza’s smartphone app and through registered travel agents. 17 airports will be served, including Cairns, the Whitsunday Coast, Melbourne, Port Macquarie, Newcastle and Mildura. Sydney is off the list. The airline will avoid flights between capital cities, focusing its efforts on leisure destinations and routes where there is no non-stop service currently.
Seeking to attract a customer base characterised by “holidaymakers, bachelor parties, leisure and fun”, the airline is offering souvenirs for sale on board, including branded purple bikinis and speedo-style ‘budgie smuggler’ swimwear. Cabin crew will also embody the informal atmosphere, with sneakers and shorts permitted in a mix-and-match uniform range.
Bonza’s fleet will be made up of eight Boeing 737-8 Max planes, giving Australian plane geeks their first experience of the craft. Three of the planes have already been baptized in a public vote as Sheila, Shazza and Bazza.
While Jordan claimed “the timing couldn’t be better,” skyrocketing prices for jet fuel are casting doubt on promises made by Bonza just last year that customers would pay ultra-low fares of just $50 for every hour in the air.
Financial backing comes from US private investment firm 777 Partners, which also funds several other budget carriers internationally.