Australian Airline Bonza Cancels All Flights Leaving Thousands of Passengers Stranded

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Bonza sought to shake-up the establishment by bringing low-cost travel to smaller towns and cities across Australia.

The future of Australia’s newest low-cost airline is in the balance. On Tuesday, Bonza suddenly canceled its entire flying program and entered voluntary administration, a form of protection from creditors.

The carrier has been flying for a little over a year. Its first revenue service was in January 2023. 

In a statement, the company said it had temporarily suspended services “as discussions are currently underway regarding the ongoing viability of the business.” 

“We apologize 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,” the statement continued.

A notice was filed to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission on Tuesday confirming that accounting firm Hall Chadwick has been appointed as an external administrator. 

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that the Bonza fleet is currently grounded up to and including May 2, 2024. The ABC suggests that this could be an opportunity for a third party to rescue Bonza, or for the airline to be restructured. 

Competitor Airlines Support Stranded Travelers

The Australian Transport Department said Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Jetstar are all willing to assist passengers impacted by the situation, “including re-booking those who need to return to their home port.”

Bonza, meaning ‘excellent’ in Aussie slang, operates a fleet of new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. At its launch, the carrier promised to “open up Australia,” by bringing new competition to the market. 

Its current route map comprises three bases serving 36 routes to 21 destinations with a focus on “unserved and underserved markets.”

Bonza’s CEO Tim Jordan previously held senior roles at major low-cost airlines including Cebu Pacific and Indian carrier GoAir (later known as Go First).

The airline is backed by investment firm 777 Partners. The group also includes Canadian airline Flair in its portfolio. 777 Partners did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bonza’s Bold Approach

Its bright purple branding isn’t Bonza’s only eye-catching feature. The carrier claimed to be the first airline anywhere in the world to take an “app-first approach.” 

In practice, this meant the only place to book directly was the airline’s app, although third-party options were also available. Last month it reversed this policy by allowing bookings via its website.

The carrier has also been pioneering in diversity issues, launching a “wear it your way” gender-neutral uniform for cabin crew. 

This is a developing story which will be updated. 

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