Bonza boss banks on cost savings 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 and a Boeing executive below, without food or merchandise they had already paid for. Passengers were not told their items would not arrive.

To cut costs, Bonza has ditched onboard trolley service, physical menus, and Wi-Fi. Customers must book flights, check-in, order food and pay for flights using the Fly Bonza app, which runs on limited Wi-Fi service. A bottle of Nu Pure Spring Water or a cup of tea costs $3.50.

CEO Tim Jordan said customer disputes would be resolved through the Fly Bonza app’s digital chat feature. The fledgling airline doesn’t have a call center or phone number for customers to call to resolve issues, another cost-saving initiative.

“We’re not an airline that says we’re not going to do anything wrong,” Jordan said. “And we plan to apologize and learn from it and try to improve. And that’s how we’re going to approach the market, and we think that’s pretty refreshing.”

The Sunshine Coast to Whitsunday Coast route is the first to be introduced in Bonza’s planned flight network, which will include 17 destinations and 27 routes, including Albury, Bundaberg, Toowoomba, 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 for the region as a whole. Of Bonza’s 17 routes, 13 originate or depart from Sunshine Coast Airport.

“It’s a game changer. It’s incredible,” Brodie said. “It’s a partnership forever.”

The new airline is keen to capitalize on the trend of exodus of people from metropolitan areas to regional areas, driven by COVID lockdowns and the ubiquity of remote work.

Aboard 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. Darren Hulst, Boeing’s vice president of commercial marketing, was also on board. Bonza also invited food partners, hyper-local small businesses from the Sunshine Coast, on the flight.

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Brian Lowry

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