Australian airline Bonza is celebrating its first anniversary of operations by announcing that it remains “firmly focussed on growth” going into its second year. The carrier intends to expand its fleet and boost its network during 2024, including the launch of a fourth operating base.
On what it has dubbed its ‘Bonzaversary’, the airline has announced that it carried over 750,000 passengers over its first year of operations with its fleet of six aircraft. The carrier currently serves 21 destinations, with 84% of its 38 routes not served by any other airline and 89% unserved by any other low-cost carrier.
Bonza claims to have saved passengers more than AUD125 million (USD138m) in its first year of flying, based on the difference between its own average airfares and those of other airlines on routes where they compete.
Bonza operated its inaugural flight on 31 January 2023, from the Sunshine Coast Airport (MCY) to Whitsunday Coast Airport (PPP). The start of operations followed lengthy delays in regulatory approval, with the airline eventually being granted its Air Operators Certificate on January 12, 2023.
Upon commencing operations a year ago, Bonza publicized its ambitious expansion plans. The airline targeted an initial route map of 27 routes flying to 17 domestic destinations with a fleet of just four Boeing 737 aircraft. However, by July 2023, the company was forced to downscale its expansion plans. Following a route network realignment, five routes were cut entirely and frequencies were reduced on another 20.
Bonza’s first-year woes were amplified when two aircraft due to be delivered to the carrier were re-directed to sister company Flair Airlines in Canada. Both carriers are owned by investment company 777 Partners. However, Bonza has since received two wet-leased aircraft from the Canadian airline, boosting its fleet to six planes and allowing for the delayed opening of its third base at Gold Coast Airport (OOL) to go ahead.
Looking ahead and with a steady course now set, the low-cost carrier has declared that it is “firmly focused on growth” in 2024, with plans to add more aircraft to its current fleet of six Boeing 737 MAX 8s, as well as more domestic points to its network. The airline currently has bases at Sunshine Coast Airport, Melbourne (MEL), and Gold Coast Airport.
The airline has not disclosed where its fourth base will be, nor how many additional aircraft it is looking to take on in 2024, but it looks set to widen its footprint across Australia over the coming year. It is due to take delivery of its next 737 MAX 8 (to be called ‘Matilda’) in the coming months.
“Since our introduction just a year ago we’ve delivered significant savings wherever we operate, demonstrating the positive impact Bonza is having on the Australian domestic aviation market,” said Bonza’s CEO, Tim Jordan.
“We’ve got big plans for 2024 and the Aussie public will benefit. We’re predicting we’ll save domestic travelers somewhere in the vicinity of an additional $250 million this coming year. Competition in Australian skies is a great thing for Aussie travelers and over 750,000 customers have already experienced the benefits of Bonza,” he added.
Bonza now employs more than 300 people around Australia and Jordan cannot speak highly enough of them.
“We have an amazing team of Bonza legends who have worked so hard to make Bonza what it is today,” said Jordan. “Our legends are incredibly proud to be growing an airline that has a mission to connect Australia and its underserved regional and leisure centers and we’re all excited for what’s to come in the year ahead.”