Australian low-cost startup Bonza (AB, Sunshine Coast) is commencing scheduled passenger operations on January 31, 2023, with a roundtrip flight between its Maroochydore/Sunshine Coast Airport base and Proserpine, located midway up the Queensland coastline. Bonza is the first Australia-based operator of the B737 MAX type, with the inaugural flight also becoming the first scheduled domestic service in Australia to use the MAX.

A B737-8 registered as VH-UIK (msn 43975), operating flight AB777, departed Maroochydore on the morning of January 31 (local time). While the flight was largely filled with media and other invited guests, the remaining seats were made available to the general public on a paid bases last week. The return service, AB778, also carrying fare-paying passengers, heads back to Maroochydore later in the day.

Bonza CEO Tim Jordan says passengers can expect "a fresh approach to flying" with a focus on quality while keeping operating costs down. Maroochydore/Sunshine Coast Airport Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Brodie, who encouraged Bonza to establish their base there with a range of incentives, says Bonza will provide 772,000 seats in and out of the airport over the next 12 months.

In addition to VH-UIK, Bonza has two more B737-8s at Maroochydore; VH-UJK (msn 43974) and VH-UJT (msn 62533). A fourth aircraft, VH-UBI (msn 60388) remains in Tucson International. ch-aviation research has identified another six B737-8s flagged to go to Bonza. Three were originally to go to NordStar (Y7, Norilsk) but not taken up and three were due to go to LOT Polish Airlines (LO, Warsaw Chopin) and also not taken up. The aircraft are VH-UQI, VH-UNN (msn 44304), VH-UQP (msn 44305), VH-UMQ (msn 43957), VH-UKH (msn 61864), and VH-UDV (msn 43973).

The 777 Partners-backed Bonza plans to roll out across 27 routes serving 11 destinations up and down Australia's east coast, including 11 routes from Maroochydore. The airline is flying regional sectors on a low-frequency basis (two to four times a week) and except for Melbourne Tullamarine, avoiding capital cities, including Australia's busiest airport, Sydney Kingsford Smith.

Initially, Bonza has announced flight start dates and schedules for 15 routes. In addition to the Maroochydore - Prosperine route, the details of the first routes are;

  • Maroochydore - Mackay - three times a week from February 14;
  • Maroochydore - Melbourne Avalon - three times a week from February 21;
  • Maroochydore - Townsville - three times a week from February 22;
  • Maroochydore - Rockhampton - three times a week from March 13;
  • Rockhampton - Townsville - three times a week from March 24;
  • Maroochydore - Cairns - five times a week from March 27;
  • Maroochydore - Newcastle Williamtown - three times a week from March 28;
  • Cairns - Mackay - twice a week from March 29;
  • Newcastle Williamtown - Proserpine - twice a week from March 30;
  • Cairns - Rockhampton - twice a week from March 31;
  • Maroochydore - Proserpine - three times a week from March 31;
  • Maroochydore - Mildura - twice a week from April 4;
  • Maroochydore - Albury - twice a week from April 7;
  • Maroochydore - Port Macquarie - twice a week from April 12; and
  • Maroochydore - Coffs Harbour - twice a week from April 20.