Bonza (AB, Sunshine Coast) expects to receive the appropriate regulatory approvals to operate wet-leased B737-8s in around seven days, rebooting the failed launch of its third Gold Coast Coolangatta base and paving the way for the second wet-leased aircraft to ferry in from Canada.

The Australian LCC has received a blizzard of adverse publicity after it was forced to cancel flights and delay route launches over the peak local summer school holiday period because it scheduled flights using two aircraft wet-leased from Canada's Flair Airlines (F8, Kelowna) before locking in the necessary Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) approvals.

"Our Gold Coast base is due to be operated by our partner Flair in the short term," said Bonza CEO Tim Jordan last week. "This arrangement brings with it separate regulatory approval process with CASA. That process is progressing but is not yet complete. We’ve had to make the regrettable decision to defer flights to/from Gold Coast to Darwin, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Melbourne Avalon, Cairns, Proserpine and Mildura.

ch-aviation understands that Bonza expects to secure the necessary approvals by the end of next week. One Flair B737-8, C-FLKC (msn 61807), is parked at Gold Coast Coolangatta, while the second, C-FLHI (msn 61804), was due to ferry to Australia earlier this month but remains in service with Flair until the CASA approvals come through. However, the ferrying process and deployment into service in Australia is only expected to take a matter of days.

Bonza's Gold Coast Coolangatta mid-November debut was timed to coincide with start of the summer holiday peak and capitalise on the popularity of the Gold Coast as a holiday destination. The LCC announced (and started selling tickets) flights on twelve new routes from the airport. It has since temporarily suspended some routes entirely, curtailed frequencies on other routes, and also relied on a wet-leased B737 from Nauru Airlines (Nauru). Interchangeably using B737-700 and B737-300 stock, that airline has managed to cover for Bonza on some routes, including Gold Coast Coolangatta - Townsville, Gold Coast Coolangatta - Rockhampton, and Gold Coast Coolangatta - Launceston. A Nauru Airlines spokesperson said the airline was always nimble and responsive to last minute wet lease requests.