BONZA Airlines: New Australian Budget Airline Sounds like a joke
When I first saw this story, I thought it might be one of those start-up airlines, that never actually flies. But backed by US private investment company 777 Partners, this looks a little more serious.
Subject to regulatory approval, this new Australian airline is scheduled to start service with 3 to 5 Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft hopes to establish some part-time point to point regional routes, appealing to ‘Teachers, tradies, kids and carers’.
Low-cost and Budget, but not Ryanair
The ‘low-cost independent, all economy’ airline – as it is billing itself – won’t be a clone of Ryan Air says the founder and CEO Tim Jordan.
Bonza is scheduled to launch at the beginning of the year according to the SMH, or in mid-year – riding the post-pandemic wave of travel according to ET. Knowing the way these things tend to work, I’d put it at mid to late 2022 if it all. In case you can’t tell, I’m still a sceptic.
Again according to ET, the airline will concentrate ‘on a network of regional leisure destinations rather that (sic) the east coast ‘triangle’ of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.’ Regional Airline with aspirations to become an inter-capital airline better lookout, and QantasLink better look to its laurels as well.
Lucus Baird over at the AFR is quoting the airline founder as saying that ‘Bonza would not be a “me too” airline, and would keep costs down by omitting creature comforts favoured by business travellers such as a frequent flyer scheme or airport lounges.’
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Target Market & frequency
Jordan is talking leisure destination, non-daily flights, think 3 or 4 times a week, on a low cost, but not low-quality model. He’s negotiating with 45 Airports, hoping for a bit of discount on their fees with can add up to nearly 25% of airlines operating costs. Good luck with that.
Jordan has a background with Virgin Blue, and despite his denials, Bonza will be a ‘Virgin Blue 2.0’ version – the sales shtick sounds awfully familiar. He is claiming that it will have more in common with ‘North American’s Allegiant Airlines, Europe’s Jet2 and especially Flair, a Canadian ‘ultra-low-cost carrier’ also backed by 777 Partners’ according to ET.
Wide reach with infrequent service seems to be Jordan’s approach, which is counterintuitive to industry assumptions, which usually gives primacy to regularity and frequency.
Price and capacity
Jordon doesn’t have a lot of comment to offer here – well I suppose he doesn’t want to start a price war this far from launch. On aircraft capacity, Bonza is planning 186 all economy seats – that’s about 12 more than Qantas, and 3 less than Ryanair.
Although it’s a big risk, there is a hole left by the non-profit-making Tiger Air that disappeared from Australian skies once Virgin Australia V1, hit administration.
Maybe there is a gap waiting to be filled, but an airline starting with 3 planes, with a lack of frequency and a broad network, doesn’t seem the best plan for success for me. But what do I know? Well I do know that if this gets off the ground then REX and Qantaslink should start making sure they are as efficient as possible.