Bonza CEO backs cost-saving as bogan airline takes off

The high volume of orders and short flight time on Bazza’s first voyage left a handful of passengers, particularly in the middle of the cabin, without food or merchandise they already paid for, including a Boeing executive. Passengers were not told their items would not be arriving.

To save on costs, Bonza has ditched in-flight trolley service, physical menus, and Wi-Fi. Customers must book flights, check in, order and pay for food through the Fly Bonza app, which runs on a restricted Wi-Fi service. A bottle of Nu Pure Spring Water or cup of tea will set you back $3.50.

CEO Tim Jordan said customer disputes would be resolved through the Fly Bonza app’s digital chat function. The fledgling airline does not have a call centre or any phone number customers can ring to resolve issues, another cost-saving initiative.

“We’re not an airline that’s going to say we’re not going to get stuff wrong,” Jordan said. “And we plan to apologise and learn from it and try and improve. And that’s the way that we’re going to be approaching the market and we believe that’s quite refreshing.”

The Sunshine Coast to Whitsunday Coast route is the first to be rolled out in Bonza’s planned flight network spanning 17 destinations and 27 routes including Albury, Bundaberg, Toowoomba as well as Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour.

Sunshine Coast Airport CEO Andrew Brodie believes the new airline will transform the region’s economy and contribute $86 million in tourism dollars to the wider region. Of Bonza’s 17 routes, 13 have Sunshine Coast Airport as the point of origin or departure.

“This is a game changer. It’s unbelievable,” said Brodie. “It’s a partnership forever.”

The new carrier is eager to capitalise on the trend of people moving away from metropolitan cities and towards regional areas driven by COVID lockdowns and the ubiquity of remote work.

On board the “Bazza” flight were key figures from Bonza backer and US private equity firm 777 Partners, including founder and managing partner Steve Pasko, chief operating officer Prasad Hedge, and head of airline investments head Manish Raniga. Boeing commercial marketing vice president Darren Hulst was also aboard. Bonza also invited food partners, hyper-local small businesses from the Sunshine Coast, on the flight.

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