No refunds for travellers caught in Bonza collapse

Bonza's first plane, 'Shazza', touches down

Source: Bonza

Bonza passengers have been dealt another blow with confirmation they are unlikely to be refunded for their cancelled flights.

In another hit on Thursday, the budget airline’s external administrator confirmed Bonza’s planes would remain grounded until at least next Wednesday – five days longer than previously expected.

A Hall Chadwick spokesman said the firm would continue talks with the lessor of Bonza’s fleet and other parties about the “resumption of operations” into next week.

“Customers with bookings during this period are advised not to travel to the airport,” they said.

“Customers scheduled to travel during this time are requested to make alternative arrangements with other airline carriers.”

More than 180 Bonza flights had been scheduled in the next week, with up to 33,000 passengers.

Hall Chadwick was expected to give another update later on Thursday.

The budget airline fell into voluntary administration on Tuesday, with travellers left stranded in airports across Australia.

Chief executive Tim Jordan revealed Bonza’s ongoing viability was in question, amid urgent talks about the future of the airline.

Hall Chadwick has also since confirmed that thousands of travellers left high and dry by the airline’s collapse won’t get their money back “at this time”.

“Unfortunately, the administrators and/or the company are not in a position to process or issue refunds at this time,” it said in a statement late on Wednesday.

“We understand how frustrating this is and we appreciate customers’ patience at this time.”

The decision came after Bonza passengers were initially told in text messages that they would receive full refunds for cancelled flights.

Transport Minister Catherine King appeared pessimistic about Bonza being able to resume flights. She said the government had been speaking with the airline and was trying to get Bonza “back up and running”.

“I think they’ve got to look at the books a fair bit. It’s unlikely that will happen,” she told ABC News Breakfast on Wednesday.

The federal government has set up a hotline for out-of-pocket travellers. It had received almost 1500 calls on Tuesday, jumping to nearly 2600 by Thursday morning.

King said people continued to reach out for help.

Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar have offered free flights to help stranded passengers get home, reportedly helping more than 2000 people so far.

However, multiple customers have had to spend hundreds of dollars to secure flights home.

The Transport Workers Union said it was in talks with other industry players about the future of 150 Bonza staff.

The Sunshine Coast-based company was unveiled in October 2021 and its first flight took off in January 2023.

It originally flew 27 routes to 17 destinations but started cutting services during its first six months.

Bonza has flown to a host of regional destinations including Albury, Mildura, Mount Isa, Tamworth and Port Macquarie.

-with AAP

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