SYDNEY : New Australian budget airline Bonza plans to start domestic flights with two to three Boeing Co 737 MAX planes from the second quarter of next year, pending regulatory approvals, its chief executive told Reuters.
The airline will be based in northern New South Wales or southern Queensland and focus on leisure-driven routes not served by rivals or are underserved, said Tim Jordan, Bonza's founder and CEO.
Bonza, which means "excellent" in old-fashioned Australian slang, would compete against Qantas Airways Ltd, Virgin Australia and Regional Express Holdings Ltd (Rex) in a market that lacks an independent low-cost carrier.
"This is not 'me too'," Jordan told Reuters in a phone interview. "We are not about stealing traffic from other carriers. This is about creating a brand new market."
The initial routes will be chosen in part based on which airports offer better financial incentives, he said.
Bonza expects to apply for an operating licence with Australia's aviation regulator and hopes to sell tickets in the first quarter of 2022, Jordan said.
The carrier is backed by U.S. private investment firm 777 Partners, which has an investment portfolio that includes Canadian low-cost airline Flair Airlines and in March placed an order for 24 737 MAX planes with purchase rights for 60 more.
"We see huge potential in the Australian market to deliver the benefits and options that an independent low-fare airline brings," 777 Partners Managing Partner Josh Wander said in a statement.
Tigerair Australia, once a competitor in that market and later bought by Virgin Australia, closed last year during the COVID-19 pandemic after reporting losses for years.
Rex launched big-city flights earlier this year, with one-way fares as low https://www.reuters.com/article/rex-expansion-idUSL4N2MY5B3 as AUS$39 (US$28.56) from Sydney to Melbourne, before lockdowns led to a temporary flying halt. Its offerings, however, are mid-tier rather than low-cost.
(Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)