‘Shazza’ is yet to fly as budget airline Bonza awaits approval to get off the ground

Shazza and Bazza will soon take to the skies as Bonza flies to 17 destinations across the country.

Shazza and Bazza will soon take to the skies as Bonza flies to 17 destinations across the country. Photo: Bonza

Budget airline Bonza made headlines last year by promising to deliver cheap flights between regional cities in Australia.

But almost a year on, passengers are yet to board a flight, with the carrier still awaiting regulatory approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

In October 2021, Bonza announced it was planning to launch a domestic low-cost carrier with flights in early 2022. The Australian tone of the carrier was made clear when Bonza called its first jet in the fleet – Shazza.

The airline targets the leisure market, with 80 per cent of its routes not already covered by existing airlines.

CASA recently clarified the status of Bonza’s certification.

“We continue to work on the Air Operators Certificate (AOC) application filed by Bonza in April,” it said in a statement.

“The airline has revised its schedule and is now working to a mid-October target, but this is subject to resolution of several issues.

“A new AOC is a complex and detailed process to ensure Bonza meets the aviation standards expected by Australian travellers,” CASA said.

Painstaking evaluation

Evaluation by the regulator includes operations manuals, maintenance procedures, safety systems, and pilot and crew training.

Bonza CEO Tim Jordan told TND the airline respects the regulatory process and is happy to wait for the required approvals.

“In terms of timing it would be wrong of us to say when that process will be complete,” said Mr Jordan.

“The process is ongoing. We are certainly progressing positively. And we are incredibly respectful of that ongoing process with the regulator,

“We will be happy when the regulator is happy.”

Photo of a man smiling

Bonza CEO Tim Jordan at Coffs Harbour Airport. Photo: Bonza

Chair in transport and supply chain management at the University of Sydney, Professor Rico Merkert, said the delays may play well for the airline from a branding and marketing perspective.

“These guys want to be seen as offering a safe service,” Professor Merkert said.

“Safety is really important to Australians, we know this from all sorts of surveys and studies, so to get the full rubber stamp of approval from CASA is important.”

Although it is “theoretically” commercially viable for another airline to enter the market, Bonza will need to keep a close eye on the economy and the price of crude oil, Professor Merkert said.

“If we go into recession, are people going to have enough disposable income to fly to these destinations? The other thing that is potentially more troublesome is the jet fuel price,” he said.

“If you look at what has happened over the last year or two now, the crude oil price has gone up … if that oil price goes up again, say something happens in Europe or elsewhere – may be shortages – then that could pose a real problem for Bonza.”

Bonza chief commercial officer Carly Povey told the ABC that the carrier has adopted a relaxed uniform policy.

‘Tattoos, that’s fine by us’

“A non-gender uniform that embraces all Australians and allows them to be who they want to be at work and to be smart, but to be comfortable and to have fun as well,” Ms Povey said.

“We won’t dictate that people need to wear pantyhose; we won’t dictate that you need to wear a skirt if you’re a woman … if they have tattoos, that’s fine by us.”

People standing on airplane tarmac smiling

Bonza has adopted a relaxed uniform policy. Photo: Bonza

Ms Povey said Shazza, the company’s first plane, touched down at its Sunshine Coast base in August.

“Shazza does have some friends in Victorville at the moment that are undergoing painting and applying some Bonza touches,” Ms Povey said.

Bonza touts itself as an “independent” alternative to the other carriers.

‘Creating a new market’

“This isn’t about taking traffic from any existing operator,” said Mr Jordan. “This is about creating a new market. These people are generally not flying, and we’re about the infrequent traveller.”

Virgin declined to comment when asked about Bonza.

Rex was contacted for comment.

A spokesperson for Jetstar said: “Jetstar customers have enjoyed low fares on our extensive network of domestic and international destinations for more than 18 years.”

“We remain committed to our mission of always offering low fares to enable more people to fly to more places, more often.”

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