Australia’s newest low-cost airline comes with a catch

First announced in 2021, Australian airline Bonza will finally take to the skies in 2023, after securing regulatory approval last week. The soon-to-launch carrier’s aim is to open up routes to more of the country’s regional destinations, flying 27 routes to 17 locations, and offer low-cost fares in the process.

Unfortunately for some, passengers will only be able to book flights on the airline’s app or through a registered local travel agent.

On Thursday 12 January, Bonza CEO Tim Jordan announced that the airline had received its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

“This is a historic moment for Australian aviation as we get ready to launch the first high-capacity airline in more than 15 years, and the country’s only independent low-cost carrier,” Mr Jordan said. “With the approval from CASA, 2023 is set to be the year of seeing more of your own backyard for less.”

Bonza will start by offering flights from its Sunshine Coast base – with flights from Melbourne, where its second base will be, set to follow.

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Within Queensland, Bonza passengers will be able to fly from the airline’s hub to Cairns, Townsville, the Whitsunday coast, Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg and Toowoomba Wellcamp.

Interstate Bonza travellers can fly from the Sunshine Coast to Albury, Avalon, Coffs Harbour, Melbourne, Mildura, Newcastle, Port Macquarie and Tamworth.

Travellers catching a flight from Melbourne can fly directly to 10 destinations including Mildura, Bundaberg, Sunshine Coast and Port Macquarie.

Bonza will allow passengers to reach places they mightn’t have otherwise been able to fly to. The airline claims that 93 per cent of its routes aren’t currently served by any other airline – and 96 per cent of them don’t have a low-cost carrier.

The carrier plans to sell tickets as low as $50 for hour-long short-haul flights, with longer flights costing customers anywhere between $75 to $100. Fares won’t include baggage and seat selection, for which you’ll need to pay extra.

Bonza is launching with the backing of US private investment firm 777 Partners, which also has a hand in Canada’s Flair Airlines and the Southeast Asian-based Value Alliance. Its initial fleet of planes include three Boeing 737 Max-8s, affectionately named Shazza, Bazza and Sheila.

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Production of the model was recently halted after hardware and software issues resulted in two crashes and 300 deaths. However, the aircraft has since been reapproved for flying in 135 countries and is currently being used to fly in and out of Australia by various international airlines.

“The excitement for what we are about to deliver is palpable and the timing couldn’t be better,” Mr Jordan said.

“Demand for domestic travel is high and Aussies deserve for travel to be a basic right for many, not a luxury for the few.”

What do you think of Bonza? Are you happy to only be able to book flights through an app on your phone? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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