Australia: Budget airline goes into administration after launching in 2023

Australia: Budget airline Bonza goes into administration after launching in 2023
In the 15 months Bonza operated, the carrier flew more than 750,000 passengers (Image credit: Mitchul Hope/Flickr)

Australian budget airline Bonza has gone into voluntary administration after launching in August 2023.

The move forced the carrier to abruptly cancel all its flights on Tuesday leaving passengers stranded, according to BBC News.

In a statement, Bonza said: “We apologise to our customers who are impacted by this and we’re working as quickly as possible to determine a way forward that ensures there is ongoing competition in the Australian aviation market.”

The airline’s collapse has been partly attributed to the domination of the Australian aviation market by airlines Virgin and Qantas, which account for 95 per cent of the country’s domestic aviation market.

In the 15 months Bonza operated, the carrier flew more than 750,000 passengers.

According to local media, creditors seized its eight Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Bonza passenger Mel Watkins, who was due to fly to Launceston for a family holiday, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation she was “absolutely shattered” by the news her flight had been cancelled.

She said: “I thought it’s an Australian airline, and we’d be better off supporting a small company, but it turns out no.”

In 2021, Bonza announced its plan to run low-cost, low-frequency flights between regional and holiday destinations that are not now serviced by existing carriers.

But it was forced to wait until January 2023 to gain regulatory approval and begin operations – and aircraft shortages and low patronage saw the carrier cut several routes from its network in quick succession.

As a result it only amassed a 2 per cent share of the market, according to the competition watchdog’s latest domestic aviation report this year.

With Bonza now in administration, the airline appears set to join a long list of airlines that made an attempt to dent Qantas’ dominance and the duopolistic history of Australian aviation.

Michael Kaine, national secretary of the Transport Workers Union, said: “Bonza must ensure staff are prioritised and informed as this process plays out.”

He also criticised the “unchecked corporate greed” in the aviation industry that has led to higher fares, and warned that any carrier attempting to break into the market “has little chance of survival”.