Push Back: Bonza Now Plans A September Start Date

Australian startup airline Bonza is pushing their still unconfirmed first flight date back to at least sometime in September. The airline had flagged the first flights in mid-2022. But Bonza still awaits its first plane and the all-important air operator’s certificate (AOC). While plenty of pundits reckon the airline will never take off, Bonza remains resolutely upbeat about its prospects.

Bonza knows when it’s first MAX is landing, but it isn’t yet saying when

In a letter to “all Aussie Travellers” just posted online, Bonza Chief Customer Officer Carly Povey updates how the startup is traveling. While the airline knows when its first plane will land in Australia, they declined to give a hard date, and questions from Simple Flying yielded a similar response.


“We’re getting closer to take-off, which means we’re getting clearer on potential start dates. Having this locked in is key to going on sale with our first wave of flights. One key input is that we now have confirmation of when our first aircraft will touch down on Aussie shores,” wrote Ms Povey. “This is slightly later than first expected but gives us the clarity we need to map out the in-country process that starts once they touch down. In short, we’re making good progress, and in the coming weeks, I will provide further updates.”

Bonza plans to start flying with four 737 MAX 8s and says it will double its fleet to eight MAXs within the first 12 months of operation. But before any of them can take off, Bonza will need its AOC. In a veiled reference, Ms Povey said Bonza is “progressing through the regulatory process.”

Bonza plans to have eight MAXs in the air within 12 months of first flights taking off. Photo: Bonza

Can the Bonza model work in Australia?

Industry insiders tell Simple Flying even the best prepared AOC application can take 12 months to wind its way through the Australian bureaucracy. Industry insiders also suggested Bonza was falling behind its planned mid-year launch when Bonza’s normally constant flow of press releases slowed in recent months.

Bonza’s focus on unserved and leisure-driven markets and competing on price rather than frequency has antecedents elsewhere – think Breeze, Flair, Ryanair, and easyJet. Bonza CEO Tim Jordan (who made a name for himself successfully launching Central Asia’s first low-cost carrier FlyArystan) has years of aviation experience, but many argue this model won’t work in Australia.

Bonza’s initial route map. Source: Bonza

Why certain airports found favor with Bonza

Bonza’s choice of routes and destinations certainly raised plenty of eyebrows when first announced earlier this year. But Simple Flying understands all the destination airports have given Bonza a holiday on landing fees, including their planned HQ, Sunshine Coast/Maroochydore Airport (MCY) in Queensland – which was key to Bonza selecting those airports. It perhaps also explains why obvious Bonza destinations like Ballina Byron (BNK), Hervey Bay (HVB), and the Gold Coast/Coolangatta (OOL) failed to make the cut.

Indeed, Maroochydore/Sunshine Coast Airport is really rolling out the welcome mat for Bonza. In addition to giving them land to build their HQ, MCY already has the Bonza signage up at the airport. That’s about as over-friendly as Bonza’s use of the faux Australian slang no one (other than them) uses.

Out and proud – Sunshine Coast Airport already has the Bonza signs up before the first planes have landed. Photo: Andrew Curran/Simple Flying

Further, there is an element of experimentation with many of Bonza’s routes. Informally, Simple Flying hears if routes don’t work out or airports implement excessive landing fees once the holiday period (believed to be 12 months) ends, Bonza will simply withdraw from the route. Given Bonza’s propensity to pick offbeat routes, there are plenty more experimental options out there. Tim Jordan just needs to find airports with paved runways big enough to take his MAX 8s and airport operators willing to waive fees.

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