Bonza - Australia’s ULCC enters voluntary administration

Background

Bonza airlines, a fairly new airline, focused on connecting Australia’s regional towns and cities instead of competing against the giants, Qantas and Virgin, in a saturated market. They operated as an ultra low cost airline, offering flights as low as AUD$39.

Bonza revealed their intention to start operations in early 2022 however they did not receive their AOC (Air Operators Certificate) until January 2023. Bonza commenced operations from Sunshine Coast on the 31st January 2023. Since launching, Bonza has faced criticism for cancelling flights, including mass cancellations over Christmas, and suspending routes.

Bonza flew the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, on lease from Flair, operating 38 routes across 5 states/territories.

Current events

As of the 30th April 2024, Bonza has cancelled all flights and entered voluntary administration, with some reports stating that Bonza’s aircraft have been repossessed. Hall Chadwick, the company that has taken administration of Bonza stated the grounding of the fleet is currently up to and including Thursday 2 May 2024. Qantas and Virgin have stepped in and offered free flights to assist stranded passengers.

Thoughts?

I've been receiving several marketing emails from Bonza about sales and extended sales. It seems like their flights are not filling up as expected, however this is just a speculation. What do you think of this news?

More info: Bonza cancels flights across Australia, enters voluntary administration, leaving passengers stranded - ABC News

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Sad to hear this hope they can recover. I didn’t get a chance to fly with them either sadly!!

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When they had started i had a feeling something like this was going to happen because other low cost airlines that have tried to be successful in Australia just havent work out either. Take Tiger air for an example!

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Yeah low cost Airlines don’t do well in Australia, Apart from Jetstar. At least Tiger Air lasted longer than Bonza!!

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It’s a big shame, especially because Bonza had nothing to do with their voluntary administration. There’s a massive, deeper issue with their American parent company.

The article below explains the very complex situation, and how Bonza ended up where they are. It’s a great read.


Voluntary administration does not mean it’s the end. It protects the airline from bankruptcy and provides legal cover in the case AIP were to chase after Bonza.

In the simplest of terms, Bonza itself had no debts, 777 Partners, it’s parent company who bankrolls the airline and covered all debts without care, does.

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Yeah the Parent Company also owns 25% of Flair Airlines.

Its not easy to start an successfull airline.

Whether risk management strategies and due diligence for new ventures (Bonza) and acquisitions (various sports teams) appear foolish or not, can often pivot on whether the money environment is cheap vs expensive.

Cheap money increases the mindset (and social proof for the behavior) of risk taking. A dearer cost of money forces more discipline on businesses, and most acutely for those depending on borrowing a lot of other people’s money.

The following isn’t an encouraging character reference for managing the balance between easy and more restrictive monetary conditions: The mysterious man behind 777 Partners, the strange private equity firm that owns Bonza - ABC News

“Fearless Disruptors” of the financial norm Our Story (777part.com), sounds a bit like another new financial perpetual motion machine promise for dealing with inherent risk in finance(?).

It would be interesting to know what degree of Bonza’s operating loss, if any, 777parnters was underwriting.

General feeling from most of us was that it was never going to work out. They really needed to get flights going in the ‘golden triangle’ SYD, MEL, BNE.

I feel bad for the staff, but it was never going to work with just 4 aircraft and some pretty obscure routes.

Good for us at QantasLink now though, more pax going forward…

Direct quote from the parent company, 777 Partners website:
“(From:) Running the business gets in the way of GROWING the business”

Yeah they didnt get into the Golden triangle which definitely hurt them. Was going to fly them direct to the sunshine coast in October but that’s not gonna happen now. Its a real shame tho!

I should probably subscribe to the AFR because I can’t otherwise access your linked article on the Bonza mess (an excuse to visit a library maybe).

Was there any mention of sufficient load factors (necessary for sustaining operations above breakeven) having suffered from ongoing loss of reputation with customers?

There was a lot of really bad publicity over customers being stranded, for a whole host of reasons given, long before the shutdown of operations, often regulatory compliance being mentioned.

Operating readiness seemed to be a question with the list of the reasons given for cancelled flights in prior months in other articles?

to be honest, we all saw that Bonza was going to go bankrupt.

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I’m wondering how much is on the parent: Investor’s Lawsuit Accuses 777 Partners of $600 Million Fraud - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

And how much on the operator, Bonza itself: Bonza denies reports of engaging KordaMentha for financial advice amid flight reductions on some routes - ABC News
(the above and other resources outline very bad customer reputation)

What I know is that a person working at the company which provided maintenance to Bonza said the company had no issues ever paying any debts.

Bonza’s load factors on a majority of their flights were consistently higher than 80%, with a few routes not quite hitting that target.

…there’s also this to note:

6EC05DE4-C577-4441-8E60-E43531B8A8DB

Seems like it was almost entirely on their backers…

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Ok, thank you for that extra info.

(edit: the following goes more to what you were saying: Exclusive: 777 Partners was responsible for paying Bonza’s leases – Australian Aviation)

But I subsequently saw a local industry analyst say Bonza’s accounting books haven’t been available to assess their profitability. And without that, he said he couldn’t really know how much of it was local operations related.

I presume if it was operating at a profit, the backers would have been less likely to pull the plug on the aircraft (though 777 partners clearly have some suspicious issues).

Anyway, I found this kind of interesting assessment on Australia’s brutal conditions for doing what Bonza was attempting (unique challenges with market scale, airport access and geography - basically arising from comparatively low population spread widely, unsurprisingly):

What just happened to Bonza? Why new budget airlines always struggle in Australia (unsw.edu.au)

@MAviationYT Is that what you meant by?:

It appears it was tough to use the capacity of a 737max on the thin routes outside the footprint of the main population centers dominated by the established airlines.

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Think 777 is the main issue here. They’ve also been causing some problems for Flair (their other big airline) with things like having planes be repossessed and financial difficulties. Flair seems to be doing worse finance-wise than Bonza ever was, but 777 seems to be very…odd.

Oh, most certainly. They are called 777 partners but only fly 737s, are they stupid?


Flair Airlines apologies for delays after plane seizures | CTV News

What a mess!:

Yea. That’s it

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