Bonza goes into voluntary administration, stranding thousands

Australia’s newest budget airline, Bonza, has entered voluntary administration and canceled all flights, leaving thousands of passengers stranded across the country.

The Queensland-based carrier launched in January 2023 with a fleet of six Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, promising low fares and service to regional destinations often overlooked by major airlines.

However, the airline quickly faced challenges including aircraft shortages, low customer numbers, and an inability to secure landing slots at Sydney Airport.

On Tuesday, April 30th, Bonza abruptly grounded its entire fleet and appointed Hall Chadwick as voluntary administrators for its operating and holding companies.

CEO Tim Jordan said in a statement that “discussions are currently underway regarding the ongoing viability of the business” and apologized to impacted customers.

The cancellations have disrupted travel plans for thousands across the country, including many families traveling during the school holidays.

In a report from the BBC, passengers like Mel Watkins, who was headed to Launceston for a family trip, expressed dismay at being stranded by the airline they thought would be a reliable choice.

Shane O’Hare, CEO of Launceston Airport in Tasmania, told the ABC there have been “a number of heartbreaking stories” from stranded travelers.

With Bonza servicing 36 routes, many to smaller regional airports, affected passengers face difficulties getting to their destinations.

Rival airlines Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Jetstar have offered to assist stranded Bonza passengers where possible, with Qantas and Jetstar providing free flights on overlapping routes if seats are available. However, they only service six of Bonza’s 36 regional routes.

The Transport Workers’ Union has criticized “unchecked corporate greed” in the aviation industry and plans to meet with Bonza’s leadership about the impact on employees.

Australia’s Transport Minister Catherine King stated the government expects Bonza to fully inform passengers of their options and consumer rights during this disruption.

The airline has set up a hotline for customers at 03 8678 1600 as administrators determine next steps.

With concerns over Bonza’s long-term viability, the future remains uncertain for the fledgling carrier and those impacted by its sudden grounding.

Dirk Andrei Salcedo Avatar

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