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Bonza, Australia’s ‘Bogan’ Budget Airline Has Been Cleared for Takeoff

The long-delayed budget airline Bonza, promising cheap flights and purple budgie smugglers on board, has passed the final hurdle of regulatory certification and will shortly begin disembarking on domestic flights to regional airports across Queensland and interstate Australia. The self-proclaimed ‘bogan’ airline will operate flights to 17 different locations, including 13 from its headquarters on the Sunshine Coast.

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Brought to you by Lydia Valenzuela and Peter McNally, former Virgin Blue executive Tim Jordan, Bonza is Australia’s new low-cost carrier. With 777 Partners, a private investment company situated in Miami, Florida, providing financial support and funding for the airline, it’s the first budget airline to touchdown in Australia since the launch of Tigerair 15 years ago. However, it should have arrived much sooner, with the airline marred by delay after delay, much like Marlin dealing with Dory in Pixar’s Finding Nemo.

With the promise of low-cost airfares and purple budgie smugglers on board, what exactly kept Bonza waiting on the tarmac for so long? Put simpy, a laborious regulatory process that included safety examinations, commercial feasibility, and test flights to ensure Bonza was up to Australian airline standards. Delayed by an entire year, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (Casa) finally awarded the air operator’s certificate in early January, opening the cabin doors to Bonza flights down under and the potential for lower domestic fares across all airlines operating in Australia.

Potential that hopefully won’t be undone by the soaring cost of jet fuel, which could rip apart Bonza’s main incentive: an average price of $50 for every hour in the air. Tim Jordan, the CEO of Bonza, expressed confidence in the future of his company, hailing the announcement as “a historic moment for Australian aviation.”

“The excitement for what we are about to deliver is palpable, and the timing couldn’t be better,” Jordan said. “Demand for domestic travel is high, and Aussies deserve for travel to be a basic right for many, not a luxury for the few. This has never been truer with today’s cost of living challenges.”

Bonza airline approved
Image: Bonza

Jordan announced that the first Bonza tickets for flights leaving its Sunshine Coast hub would go on sale soon, with tickets restricted to the Bonza smartphone app and authorised travel agencies. Initially, the airline intends to provide services to 17 airports, catering primarily to Cairns, the Whitsunday Coast, Melbourne, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, and Mildura. Excluded from the list is a hub in Sydney, likely due to the airline’s focus on giving “people in the regions more choice”, according to an official press release before their Casa certification.

“Aussies can look forward to enjoying more time at their destination and spending less of their hard-earned cash getting there in the first place,” said Jordan.

Passengers aboard a Bonza flight will initially board one of eight Boeing 737-8 Max aircraft leased from 777 Partners, with more hopefully added as the airline grows. But the best part is three planes have already been delivered, and their names are Sheila, Shazza, and Bazza (you, beauty!). Passengers can also purchase a range of Bonza branded merchandise, including budgie smugglers and bikinis. So no, the flight attendants will not be wearing them. At least, we don’t think they will since Jordan anticipates that the mood on board will be influenced by “holidaymakers, bachelor parties, leisure, and pleasure.” So maybe ask for permission before walking the aisles and impersonating Ric Flair in your beach best. Woo!

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