Australian airline Bonza cancels all flights, go into voluntary administration

Australia’s latest budget carrier, Bonza, has entered voluntary administration, leading to the sudden cancellation of all its flights this past Tuesday.

The airline’s financial difficulties have resulted in thousands of travelers being left stranded nationwide.

Launched last year, Bonza was the first new airline to debut in Australia since 2007.

The aviation sector in Australia is highly concentrated, with Qantas and Virgin Australia holding dominant positions.

In a statement, Bonza expressed regret over the disruption caused to its customers and mentioned it is urgently seeking solutions to continue offering competitive services in the Australian aviation sector.

The company has chosen Hall Chadwick to serve as the voluntary administrators for both its operational and holding entities, as indicated in the filings with Australia’s corporate regulator.

Local media reported that Bonza’s fleet of eight Boeing 737 Max aircraft was seized by creditors on Tuesday, although the airline has not verified this.

Mel Watkins, a passenger who had planned to travel to Launceston for a holiday, expressed her disappointment to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), noting the airline’s failure despite her preference to support a local business.

In response to the cancellations affecting routes across Queensland and Victoria, the federal transport department launched an emergency hotline for affected passengers on Tuesday.

Both Qantas Group and Virgin Australia, which collectively control 95% of the domestic market, have offered help to those stranded by Bonza’s sudden shutdown.

Originating from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Bonza started in 2021 with the promise of low-cost fares and new domestic routes. However, after initial delays in gaining regulatory approvals, it began operations in 2023. Challenges such as aircraft shortages and low customer turnout led to the quick cancellation of several routes.

These challenges, along with the failure to secure slots in Sydney’s profitable aviation market, fueled speculation about the airline’s sustainability.

The primary transport union in Australia is now pushing for a swift discussion with the airline’s leadership to address the impact of the shutdown on its employees.

“The focus must be on keeping staff well-informed throughout this ordeal,” stated Michael Kaine, national secretary of the transport workers union, as reported by the media.

Kaine also denounced the prevalent corporate greed within the aviation sector, which has resulted in higher fares, and he highlighted the slim survival chances for any new entrants attempting to penetrate this tightly held market.

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