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.
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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.
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?