Bonza, Australia’s Unique 737 MAX Airline Startup

Bonza, Australia’s Unique 737 MAX Airline Startup

29

It looks like we could soon see a new airline launching operations in Australia, and the business model is unlike anything that currently exists in the country. I can’t decide if the idea is brilliant, or if Australia simply doesn’t have a big enough population to make this work.

What is Bonza’s proposed business model?

Bonza is a startup that’s promising to be Australia’s only independent low cost carrier (for example, Jetstar is Australia’s largest low cost carrier, and it’s owned by Qantas). Here’s what we know so far about the carrier’s proposed business plan:

  • The airline would launch operations by the middle of 2022
  • The airline would fly Boeing 737 MAX 8s, featuring 186 economy class seats
  • The airline would initially launch operations with two to three planes, but expand the fleet over time
  • The airline would operate point-to-point domestic leisure routes that largely aren’t currently served, rather than focusing on the Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney triangle that existing airlines are fixated on
  • For those curious about the name, “bonza” is apparently Australian slang for “great”
  • While the airline would have an ultra low cost business model (meaning base fares would be low, and there would be plenty of fees), the airline is still promising a great passenger experience (then again, which airlines doesn’t promise that?)

Who is behind Bonza?

Admittedly anyone can claim they’ll start an airline. We’ve seen this song and dance many times before. However, there’s reason to believe this could actually happen, given the person and company behind it:

  • Tim Jordan is the founder and CEO of Bonza, and he has over 30 years of experience in the airline industry, including at many low cost carriers around the globe
  • The airline is backed by Miami-based 777 Partners, which is also an investor in Canada’s Flair Airlines; this is also how Bonza would acquire Boeing 737 MAXs so quickly, since 777 Partners has 24 of these on order, with purchase rights for a further 60

So yeah, this is a little more legitimate than Global Ghana Airlines

My take on Bonza

The concept of Bonza should be exciting to Australian consumers, especially those outside the biggest cities. Bonza is essentially planning something similar to what Allegiant Air, Avelo Air, or Breeze Airways do in the United States, where they operate point-to-point routes that are otherwise underserved.

That’s not something that existing airlines in Australia are really doing, so I think the concept sounds like it could add a lot of value for consumers.

But here’s my concern, and what I’m not sure of — Australia has a population of just over 25 million people. Roughly half of the population lives in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney, with flights between those cities being well served by Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Rex.

Realistically speaking, how much demand is there in the undeserved point-to-point markets that Bonza plans to operate in? And is a 186-seat Boeing 737 MAX 8 really the plane with which to do something like this, rather than a smaller Embraer E195 or Airbus A220?

Maybe I’m giving Jetstar too much credit here, but you’d think that if the airline thought it could profitably operate point-to-point domestic routes outside from places other than Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney, that we’d already see these routes being operated.

To put the numbers into perspective, Australia’s population is a bit bigger than Florida’s. It’s kind of like an airline planning on operating underserved routes within Florida, but not between Miami, Tampa, and Orlando. I get that the geography is different (Australia is much bigger than Florida), but purely in terms of the population, I can’t help but wonder how much demand there is for this kind of point-to-point service.

I’ll be curious to see how this plays out.

Bottom line

Bonza is an Australian airline startup that hopes to launch operations in 2022 using Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The airline wants to operate point-to-point routes within Australia that aren’t currently served, essentially bringing the Allegiant business model Down Under.

That sounds great for consumers, but I can’t help but question how many markets there are with sufficient demand, given Australia’s fairly small population. Boeing 737 MAX 8s are also quite big for this concept, as 186 seats is a lot to fill.

I wonder if this airline will become a reality…

What do you make of the Bonza concept?

(Tip of the hat to Executive Traveller)

Conversations (29)
Newest comments are displayed first.

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Roger

    Could not agree more with Tim (12 Oct) Illawarra and Newcastle basins would be great areas of promise. Wollongong/Shellharbour airport terminal would not accommodate a 737 as stated by Hayden. Surely this would not be a major infrastructure problem. Of course any airline looks at the bottom line $. Many of the destinations mentioned do not have to be daily services. I would like to add a few more domestic destinations to the mix. Consider,Norfolk...

    Could not agree more with Tim (12 Oct) Illawarra and Newcastle basins would be great areas of promise. Wollongong/Shellharbour airport terminal would not accommodate a 737 as stated by Hayden. Surely this would not be a major infrastructure problem. Of course any airline looks at the bottom line $. Many of the destinations mentioned do not have to be daily services. I would like to add a few more domestic destinations to the mix. Consider,Norfolk Island,Broome,Karratha, Port Hedland. The latter two destination flights would be potentially filled by Pilbara FIFO workers eliminating the current long stopover in Perth in both directions

  2. Jared

    @Ben - another interesting ULCC joining the Indian skies from next summer has been introduced - Air Akasa.

  3. Terry

    Toowoomba (Wellcamp Airport- WTB) could benefit from this type of airline, when boarders with New South Wales and Victoria reopen, also international visitors start returning, flights between Toowoomba and Sydney, Toowoomba and Melbourne, Toowoomba and Darwin, also other major regional city's like Mackay and Newcastle will be in demand. We currently have Airnorth and REX servicing Toowoomba (Wellcamp Airport-WTB), Airnorth currently fly e170's between Toowoomba and Melbourne, Toowoomba and Townsville and Toowoomba and Cairns 2...

    Toowoomba (Wellcamp Airport- WTB) could benefit from this type of airline, when boarders with New South Wales and Victoria reopen, also international visitors start returning, flights between Toowoomba and Sydney, Toowoomba and Melbourne, Toowoomba and Darwin, also other major regional city's like Mackay and Newcastle will be in demand. We currently have Airnorth and REX servicing Toowoomba (Wellcamp Airport-WTB), Airnorth currently fly e170's between Toowoomba and Melbourne, Toowoomba and Townsville and Toowoomba and Cairns 2 To 3 days a week. REX currently fly Saab 340's between Toowoomba and Brisbane and Toowoomba to South Western and Western Queensland towns. Qantaslink cancelled Dash-8 q400 services between Toowoomba (Wellcamp Airport-WTB) and Sydney in March 2020 at the beginning of the covid 19 pandemic. So a ultra low cost airline would work well for Toowoomba (Wellcamp Airport-WTB) and the region.

  4. JB

    Is it seriously named 'Bonza'?
    It's like a non-Australian looked up buzzfeed for popular Australian slang and picked it.
    No one has used that term in Australia for 20+ years.

    1. Andrew Stuart

      I'm a 51 year old Australian. And though I know what the word means and where to use it, I have never ONCE used it in a conversation with another Australian. Maybe when the "baby boomers" were in their formative years, the word might have been used more frequently. But like the word "ripper" which basically means the same thing, it's a word that the majority of Australians, particularly the younger generation, would need to...

      I'm a 51 year old Australian. And though I know what the word means and where to use it, I have never ONCE used it in a conversation with another Australian. Maybe when the "baby boomers" were in their formative years, the word might have been used more frequently. But like the word "ripper" which basically means the same thing, it's a word that the majority of Australians, particularly the younger generation, would need to run to Google to find its meaning and when it should be used in a sentence!

  5. Duncan

    Some Drongo’s have spent to much time in Iso and are as thick as bat shit! If you can land a B737 on the runway QF/Jetstar will land an A320 guaranteed.

  6. Mark

    It would be good to fly from Illawarra Airport to Geelong Airport so I can watch Geelong AFL team.
    I'm sure it will be a huge success.

  7. MDA

    So Tim Jordan was interviewed on breakfast TV this morning. He said...
    "We start small like any business. It is property, you can't suddenly go here is 20 aircraft let's get on with it,'

    'So we will be starting with two to three aircraft. Those aircraft are currently in North America. Brand new aircraft and they're heading our way in the first quarter of 2022.'

    Expectation is to start flying in Q2 2022...

    So Tim Jordan was interviewed on breakfast TV this morning. He said...
    "We start small like any business. It is property, you can't suddenly go here is 20 aircraft let's get on with it,'

    'So we will be starting with two to three aircraft. Those aircraft are currently in North America. Brand new aircraft and they're heading our way in the first quarter of 2022.'

    Expectation is to start flying in Q2 2022 (subject to approvals).

    He said that the aim is to open up new markets for leisure travel, not steal from existing markets.

  8. Karla

    I would love to visit all the small towns that would otherwise take too long to get too by road… can’t wait!!!

  9. Mike D

    This will NOT work as I know ever city pair in the country and have done for many decades.

    Unsustainable. A/C far too big and too many players in the market.

    Fail from the start.

    1. Andrew Stuart

      Personally, I'd love to see it succeed because it's well documented that Australians love to travel. But I fear you may be right. Australia's population is just too small to sustain any more than around three airline companies. REX, the most recent airline to to break into the Australia's aviation market, is already cutting back on services although in all fairness, much of that may be due to COVID 19 and closed state borders within...

      Personally, I'd love to see it succeed because it's well documented that Australians love to travel. But I fear you may be right. Australia's population is just too small to sustain any more than around three airline companies. REX, the most recent airline to to break into the Australia's aviation market, is already cutting back on services although in all fairness, much of that may be due to COVID 19 and closed state borders within Australia that have restricted travel by air. So whilst the initial uptake may seem positive as Australians embrace low airfares on a new carrier and book flights accordingly, I fear that that this pattern is unlikely to be maintained. Especially when people realize that after being nickeled and dimed for every ancillary service, the advertised low fares that initially grabbed their attention in the first place, turn out to be the same or an even higher price than that offered by an established, full service airline such as Qantas. And Qantas has a track record of swallowing up low fare carriers that eat into their market share....

  10. MDA

    So there are a number of point to point airlines in existence in Australia already. They are just not well known. Some examples....
    Air North. Air North primarily fly the top end (ie Darwin to Gove or Kununarra) although oddly they do have some direct flights to Melbourne and in pre COVID times to Timor Leste. They are actually a partner airline of Qantas. Air North are well known in the top end of...

    So there are a number of point to point airlines in existence in Australia already. They are just not well known. Some examples....
    Air North. Air North primarily fly the top end (ie Darwin to Gove or Kununarra) although oddly they do have some direct flights to Melbourne and in pre COVID times to Timor Leste. They are actually a partner airline of Qantas. Air North are well known in the top end of Australia and use EMBRAER planes.
    Aviair is another good example which operates scheduled flights within WA along with a number of scenic flights and scheduled FIFO flights within regional WA.
    Alliance is another one. The list goes on. They all serve niche areas.
    Then there are also a number of charter companies such as King Island Air which obviously flies to King Island.

    It will be interesting to see which market they go after.

  11. Tim

    There are *some* under served city pairs (well not served at all) from Australia’s second tier cities to holiday / leisure type cities and destinations that could work

    For example:

    Gold Coast - AU’s 6th biggest city and huge tourist hot spot could probably support non stop flights to a few second tier cities that are not served now like Albury, NSW (100,000) launceston, Tasmania (100,000) and perhaps smaller NSW cities like Wagga or Orange

    ...

    There are *some* under served city pairs (well not served at all) from Australia’s second tier cities to holiday / leisure type cities and destinations that could work

    For example:

    Gold Coast - AU’s 6th biggest city and huge tourist hot spot could probably support non stop flights to a few second tier cities that are not served now like Albury, NSW (100,000) launceston, Tasmania (100,000) and perhaps smaller NSW cities like Wagga or Orange

    Then Newcastle, NSW (Australia’s 7th largest city - metro pop 500,000+) could probably support jets to say Cairns, QLD, Townsville, QLD, Hamilton Island, QLD, Ballina-Byron Bay, NSW as well as Adelaide, Hobart and Perth.

    Canberra the capital could
    Probably support jets to Ballina - Byron and a few others

    Toowoomba, QLD might work with Melbourne, Newcastle and Adelaide

    If they used the E jet or A220 they could go into smaller cities too.

    But the possible routes do seem a bit limited

    1. Hayden

      Virgin Australia announced of October 12 that they will begin Gold Coast - Launceston flights in december

  12. jeffrey erlbaum

    would be fun to be on the delivery flight from the Boeing factory to Australia

  13. Graham Olaen

    Bonza could use the planes on international routes to Pacific nations to.

    1. Mike C

      I had that thought too, although that's not their stated aim. Albury, Canberra or Newcastle to Auckland or Wellington too. And Hamilton or Dunedin to Sydney and Melbourne.

  14. Mike C

    I suspect that two might be the right number of airlines for the Australian market. Rex is an exception in that it mainly services smaller regional centres. Like others here, I have difficulty imagining where the routes are that are not already being served. During the pandemic Qantas, in particular, has added services between the other four states that avoid connections in Sydney and Melbourne. They have also added intra-state services and Qantas branded services...

    I suspect that two might be the right number of airlines for the Australian market. Rex is an exception in that it mainly services smaller regional centres. Like others here, I have difficulty imagining where the routes are that are not already being served. During the pandemic Qantas, in particular, has added services between the other four states that avoid connections in Sydney and Melbourne. They have also added intra-state services and Qantas branded services on routes that were previously only operated by Jet Star.

    Most air traffic in Australia is between state capitals or from them to regional centres. There may be some scope for additional routes to and from the few big non-capital cities from regional centres, but if existing players haven't started them in Dash-8s or Saab 340s, I doubt they would work with a B737 Max.

    Of course, given the backing of this venture from an outfit that has the B737s available, they could well be experimenting at what works, with a view to right-sizing the aircraft if it does.

  15. Dave S

    Unlike the USA, Australian regional towns are actually very small, In other words, there are very few towns outside of the major cities that could support dedicated service. Newcastle to Geelong may work but the other pickings are slim. The "Avelo" concept requires underserved regional airports with a good size population basin to feed from.

  16. Jim

    Every time I see yet another announcement of a new lost-cost airline that will focus on under-served point-to-point flights, all I can think at this point is: yeah, yeah, get in line with everybody else.

    For real, though, there can only be but so much untapped "point-to-point" demand, else it would've been claimed already. Whether in Australia, the US, or anywhere else.

  17. Kiwi

    Population is largely irrelevant in the conversation in the comparison to Florida when you factor in the difference in driving times. Sydney to Brisbane is easily a 10 hour drive from memory assuming you hit no traffic in Southern Queensland or Sydney (good luck with that) or even within Queensland between Brisbane and Cairns is a 20 hour drive.

    I’ll be more interested to see if they target secondary cities like Newcastle and Wollongong and build new travel demand

    1. Tim

      Wollongong and Newcastle are completely undeveloped air markets ripe to create demand (if done right)

      Newcastle - about a 1.5 hour drive north of Sydney has about 500,000 in its own metro area but tapping into the northern suburbs of Sydney and central coast they could add another 500,000 or so. That would make flights to Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Canberra from Newcastle make possible sense

      Likewise Wollongong- around 350,000 population - but 1 hour south...

      Wollongong and Newcastle are completely undeveloped air markets ripe to create demand (if done right)

      Newcastle - about a 1.5 hour drive north of Sydney has about 500,000 in its own metro area but tapping into the northern suburbs of Sydney and central coast they could add another 500,000 or so. That would make flights to Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Canberra from Newcastle make possible sense

      Likewise Wollongong- around 350,000 population - but 1 hour south of Sydney. They could tap into southern Sydney population base and have flights to Melbourne, Avalon etc

      Avalon, Victoria (near Geelong pop. 250k or so and also close to Melbourne) would be another to offer flights to almost anywhere

    2. Chris W

      Jetstar has tried Avalon repeatedly. Other than cheap Gold Coast flights it hasn't really worked. Most Melbournians refuse to fly out at Avalon and the Geelong population isn't big enough by itself.

    3. John.S

      Avalon was working when Tiger operated out of there because there was competition. When Tiger pulled out so did Jetstar because they could charge more out of Tulla (the original Jetstar was also going to be based out of Avalon solely before moving to Tulla to compete with the then Virgin Blue).

      So if Bonza flies out of Avalon (likely) as one of their Vic Hubs (I'm thinking they might fly out of Bendigo...

      Avalon was working when Tiger operated out of there because there was competition. When Tiger pulled out so did Jetstar because they could charge more out of Tulla (the original Jetstar was also going to be based out of Avalon solely before moving to Tulla to compete with the then Virgin Blue).

      So if Bonza flies out of Avalon (likely) as one of their Vic Hubs (I'm thinking they might fly out of Bendigo as well), then I could see Jetstar increasing flights from there as well. Induced demand is as real on aircraft as it is on freeways.

    4. Andrew Stuart

      I've often thought for years now, that both Wollongong and Newcastle have large enough population basins that remain untapped by the current players in the Australian aviation market ie: Qantas, Virgin and REX. And if an airline was to tap into that market by offering attractive lower fares than those applied on flights that depart from Sydney Airport ,they might find large numbers of people making the trek north or south to take advantage of...

      I've often thought for years now, that both Wollongong and Newcastle have large enough population basins that remain untapped by the current players in the Australian aviation market ie: Qantas, Virgin and REX. And if an airline was to tap into that market by offering attractive lower fares than those applied on flights that depart from Sydney Airport ,they might find large numbers of people making the trek north or south to take advantage of those cheaper flights. Before you know it, whole new markets would have opened up, markets that weren't there before..

    5. Hayden

      Wollongong cannot accomodate a 737 at their terminal.

    6. Andrew Stuart

      Remember how quick JetStar was able to transform Avalon from a tin shed into an airline terminal. It would take less than 6 months to build a workable terminal in the short term, until a larger facility could be constructed...

Featured Comments Load all 29 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Guri S

Lost me at 737 Max bonza(I)

Tim

There are *some* under served city pairs (well not served at all) from Australia’s second tier cities to holiday / leisure type cities and destinations that could work For example: Gold Coast - AU’s 6th biggest city and huge tourist hot spot could probably support non stop flights to a few second tier cities that are not served now like Albury, NSW (100,000) launceston, Tasmania (100,000) and perhaps smaller NSW cities like Wagga or Orange Then Newcastle, NSW (Australia’s 7th largest city - metro pop 500,000+) could probably support jets to say Cairns, QLD, Townsville, QLD, Hamilton Island, QLD, Ballina-Byron Bay, NSW as well as Adelaide, Hobart and Perth. Canberra the capital could Probably support jets to Ballina - Byron and a few others Toowoomba, QLD might work with Melbourne, Newcastle and Adelaide If they used the E jet or A220 they could go into smaller cities too. But the possible routes do seem a bit limited

Graham Olaen

Bonza could use the planes on international routes to Pacific nations to.

Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,523,713 Miles Traveled

25,807,500 Words Written

28,675 Posts Published