Australia’s budget airline Bonza cancels all flights, stranding passengers

Chief executive Tim Jordan says flights suspended amid discussions on ‘ongoing viability of the business’.

Australia is highly dependent on air travel due to its vast landmass and dispersed population [Loren Elliott/Reuters]Published On 30 Apr 202430 Apr 2024

Australia’s low-cost airline Bonza has suspended all flights amid concerns about the viability of its business, leaving potentially thousands of passengers stranded.

The budget carrier, which launched in January last year, said on Tuesday that it had suspended all services for the day amid discussions about the “ongoing viability of the business”.

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“We apologise to our customers who are impacted by this and we’re working as quickly as possible to determine a way forward that ensures there is ongoing competition in the Australian domestic aviation market,” chief executive Tim Jordan said in a statement.

Some of Bonza’s fleet of Boeing 737-MAX-8 aircraft has been repossessed to recoup money owed to investors, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, citing sources close to the matter.

Transport Minister Catherine King said her department would set up a hotline for passengers and that she had spoken to competitor airlines about helping those who were stranded.

Bonza, which connects small regional airports with bigger destinations such as Melbourne, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, became the first new carrier to enter the Australian market in 15 years on its launch in January 2023.

The airline, whose tagline is “Here for Allstralia”, promised to shake up Australia’s uncompetitive aviation sector with cut-price tickets and no-nonsense, down-to-earth service.

But Bonza has been plagued by criticism since its launch amid flight cancellations and the suspension of some routes.

Australia’s domestic market is dominated by the duopoly of Qantas and Virgin, which together control 95 percent of services.

Australia, the sixth-largest country on earth, is highly dependent on air travel due to its vast landmass and highly dispersed population.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies