/ 01 May 2024

Bonza gets grounded


The Squiz 

The shock call from budget airline Bonza to suspend all flights across its 36 routes left hundreds of passengers in the lurch at airports across Australia yesterday morning. By yesterday afternoon – after its planes were repossessed by investor AIP Capital and anonymous staff said they’d been told “Bonza has finished” – the airline had officially entered voluntary administration. While that was shaking out, Virgin, Qantas, and Jetstar stepped in with complimentary seats for Bonza customers on planes with space – but many were left thousands of dollars out of pocket paying for replacement flights.

So what happened?

The news filtered through just after 8am, with Bonza’s CEO Tim Jordan saying all services were “temporarily suspended” as the viability of the business was assessed. That came as a shock to the 150 staff, but it’s not completely out of the blue… You might remember Bonza launched just over a year ago, in January 2023 – but the build-up for a budget airline offering new regional routes in the tight Australian market didn’t live up to expectations. An order of new planes was delayed, preventing Bonza from reaching full service and causing a growing number of delayed flights. That left the company in a tight financial position… And the speculation around that intensified this month when Bonza canned some of its routes, and reports said consultancy firm KordaMentha had been called in for financial advice – something the airline denied.

So it’s all over?

It’s certainly not looking good… Bonza’s board of directors held an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon to discuss their options shortly before the company appointed accountancy firm Hall Chadwick to oversee the administration process. The Transport Workers’ Union has also spoken up, with national secretary Michael Kaine urging the company to “ensure staff are prioritised and informed as this process plays out”. Bonza’s grounding until at least tomorrow but possibly longer also means less competition within Australia’s aviation industry – something that’s been a hot topic in recent times. Kaine said aviation is an industry “on its knees” that’s “dominated by aggressive competition and unchecked corporate greed that will squeeze out any new entrant”. North West Queensland MP Robbie Katter agrees – he says the lack of competition in Oz will continue to cause problems for customers and other airlines alike.

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