Australian startup airline Bonza plans to take eight 737 MAX 8s within 12 months of commencing operations. This builds on the previously announced two or three MAXs Bonza wants to commence flying with by the middle of next year.
“We are thrilled to share our commitment to operating up to eight aircraft within the first 12 months of operation,” said Bonza CEO Tim Jordan. “This is another way in which we are focused on creating new market growth opportunities for regional Australian destinations, better connecting all of Australia, and in turn, stimulating direct and indirect job opportunities for the aviation and tourism industry.”
Tim Jordan lays out the case for Bonza
The announcement coincided with a presentation by Mr Jordan at CAPA’s Australia Pacific Aviation Summit in Sydney on Wednesday, where he laid out the case for his new low-cost airline.
Not everyone is convinced the low-frequency, high capacity, low-cost airline model operating on unserved and underserved routes in Australia can succeed. But Tim Jordan gave a spirited defense of his operating model and why he is convinced it will work.
“We’re going to nail it,” said the Bonza CEO. “We are not a me-too airline. You will not see us showing up on the triangle (the hotly contested trunk routes between Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane). Will we fly to the capital cities? There are probably some route opportunities out there. But you won’t see us on the vast majority of top 20 routes in the country.”
Historically spoilt by a cozy coalition of mostly full-service airlines, except for Jetstar, low-cost flying has struggled to gain traction in the worlds’ eighth-largest domestic airline market. The way Tim Jordan sees it, that’s a lost opportunity.
He rightly points out among the top 15 domestic markets globally, Australia is the only market with just one low-cost domestic airline. Mr Jordan dismisses the claims the Australian domestic airline market is saturated.
“It’s not when it comes to the leisure traveler… Australia is trailing and lagging behind, left behind in terms of market stimulation.”
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Bonza eyes the 737 MAX 8-200 in a few years’ time
The Bonza CEO doesn’t see his airline pinching passengers from other airlines. Instead, he sees Bonza stimulating new markets – people who don’t usually fly or often don’t travel at all. That’s often due to cost, but also due to living in parts of the country not serviced (or not well serviced) by reasonably priced airline travel – or any airline travel at all.
Once all eight new MAXs are added to the startup fleet, Tim Jordan says each plane will be capable of flying five or six routes a week each around three times a week. He says there are ample unserved routes in Australia, particularly in and out of regional centers, and some 40 airports have expressed interest in Bonza touching down there.
Meanwhile, Bonza’s backers, 777 Partners, confirmed an order with Boeing overnight to take 30 high capacity 737 MAX 8-200 aircraft. The delivery timeline for those planes starts in 2024, so they won’t be among the first batch of planes Bonza gets. But Mr Jordan says the 197 seat aircraft are definitely on Bonza’s long-term radar.
“They’re not coming all to Bonza, we’ve got to earn the right to have some of those, but we will do our utmost to get our share of those aircraft. So not only are we talking eight (new planes today) here, we also have the ability for continued growth thereafter.”
Earlier this week, Bonza’s CEO told Simple Flying the regulatory process for getting Bonza into the air was well underway, and they are sticking to their mid-2022 start date.