Bonza Suspends Operations Following Financial Difficulty

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Bonza, an Australian ultra low-cost carrier, has temporarily suspended operations through May 2, following mounting financial difficulties.

In a statement, Bonza advised customers not to show up at the airports, or to seek flights with other airlines as they assess the way forward.

Bonza has temporarily suspended services due to be operated between Tues 30 April, Wed 1 and Thur 2 May, as discussions are currently underway regarding the ongoing viability of the business. We apologise to our customers who are impacted by this and we’re working as quickly as possible to determine a way forward that ensures there is ongoing competition in the Australian domestic aviation market.

There are reports that the decision to suspend operations came after all of airline’s Boeing 737 MAX 8s were seized by its creditors AIP Capital following lack of payments.

The airline has entered voluntary administration, hiring the services of accounting firm Hall Chadwick to oversee financial operations through this difficult time.

Operating in a difficult market

Bonza started off with a bang in January 2023 trying to operate 36 routes between a number of cities spread across eastern Australia. However, as a ULCC, they quickly learnt that many of these routes were simply not sustainable and/or extremely competitive.

Throughout 2023, a number of those routes were removed from their network, and the company was forced to downsize its operations.

Australia’s air travel market has always been challenging given that the country has a relatively small population spread across a huge land mass. With most of the population living near a handful of major airports, it’s no surprise that veterans Qantas and Virgin Australia keep their operations limited to more lucrative destinations.

Owned by the dreaded 777 Partners

Bonza is owned by Miami investment first 777 Partners, which also owns Canada’s ultra low-cost airline Flair. In 2021, Jocelyn Harris, Flair’s former VP of Finance accused 777 of leasing MAXs to Flair based on an inflated value, and then set interest rates as high as 18%, making it even more challenging for the Canadian ULCC to keep its head above water.

Josimar Football has a great explanation of what’s going on over at 777 Partners, and Bonza’s suspension of operations may just be the tip of the iceberg of the financial disaster happening over at the Miami investment firm.

Qantas and Virgin Australia step in to support

Things are not looking good for Bonza, and unless they receive some sort of last minute cash injection and significantly scale down operations, it is unlikely that the Australian ULCC will see the light of day.

Customers won’t likely get a refund any time soon (if at all) and should file credit card claims to get back their money.

Qantas and Jetstar has issued a statement, stating that passengers with canceled Bonza tickets can fly with them for free on certain overlapping routes (or close connecting routes). They have also extended recruitment opportunities to Bonza staff members.

We know the news about Bonza today is difficult for both their customers and their team members.

We extend our thoughts to our aviation industry colleagues and their families – from pilots and cabin crew to flight planners and operations controllers – who will all feel the impact of today’s news.

If Bonza employees would like to discuss recruitment opportunities within Jetstar and Qantas, particularly in specialised fields which are unique to aviation, we’ve set up a dedicated page on the Jetstar careers website.

For any customers with a cancelled Bonza flight on a route we operate, to make sure you’re not further out of pocket, you can fly with us at no cost where we have seats available.

Virgin Australia is also stepping in, offering free flights to Bonza passengers whose flights have been canceled.

We are aware of the temporary suspension of Bonza flights.

We will immediately support any passengers stranded mid-journey by offering complimentary seats on Virgin Australia-operated flights to the airport nearest to their final planned Bonza destination.

For those at an airport please see your nearest customer service representative or call our Guest Contact Centre on 13 67 89.

Featured image: Bonza

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