Bonza (Sunshine Coast) has suspended all flights after its aircraft were repossessed. Following weeks of speculation about the airline's future, Bonza pulled the plug early on April 30, axing that day's flights. CEO Tim Jordan said flights had been put on hold but did not reveal that aircraft asset manager AIP Capital had seized his fleet overnight.

"Bonza has temporarily suspended services due to be operated today, as discussions are currently underway regarding the ongoing viability of the business," he said via a statement. Bonza's booking app and website have also blanked out all future flights, but neither platform currently mentions the service suspension.

In recent weeks, Bonza has refuted reports it was in trouble, with a spokesperson telling ch-aviation the airline was "not showing signs of stress." This was despite confirmation that Bonza's financiers had retained KordaMentha to advise on whether they should keep supporting the carrier.

Bonza launched into the Australian market in early 2023, backed by 777 Partners, and headed by Jordan, who had established his aviation reputation as the CEO of FlyArystan (KC, Astana Nursultan Nazarbayev) during its successful launch. However, his model of deploying 777 Partners-supplied B737-8s onto thin Australian secondary routes, often to airports with limited local population catchments, immediately raised eyebrows. It later emerged that many airports had offered Bonza a 12-month holiday from landing fees and charges. However, those holiday periods have started to expire, rendering already economically challenging routes unviable.

Bonza was also constrained by a lack of aircraft. Jordan said he needed ten to break even, but he never got more than half that amount. 777 Partners diverted aircraft due to Bonza to its other airline, Flair Airlines (Edmonton), which was experiencing fleet problems of its own. A recent deal to convert two wet-leased Flair aircraft into longer-term dry leases fell apart in recent months, with one returning to Canada and the other parked at Sunshine Coast awaiting flight clearance by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and local registration. However, after conducting a test flight on April 29, its first flight in two months, C-FLHI (msn 61804) is believed to be returning to Canada imminently.

Excluding the parked Flair B737-8, Bonza had four aircraft in its fleet when flights stopped, including VH-UIK (msn 43975), VH-UJK (msn 43974), VH-UJT (msn 62533), and VH-UKH (msn 61864). All are managed by AIP Capital, 777 Partner's former asset manager, which until recently owned a 51% stake in the thirty B737-8s linked to the Miami-based alternative investment platform. AIP now retains management rights and ch-aviation understands the company made its move to seize the four aircraft after they returned to their bases at Sunshine Coast Airport, Gold Coast Coolangatta, and Melbourne Tullamarine late on April 29, informing air traffic control of the action and barring their departures. The snap action reportedly took Bonza's management by surprise.

In early April, AIP transferred its stake in the 30 aircraft to a new investment vehicle called Phoenix Aviation Capital. Insurance company A-Cap owns 100% of Phoenix. After news of the groundings and seizures broke, Jordan said he remained in talks to resolve the problem as "quickly as possible to determine a way forward that ensures there is ongoing competition in the Australian domestic aviation market.”

Qantas, Jetstar Airways, and Virgin Australia have stepped in to offer stranded passengers complimentary flights to the airport nearest to their final destination, subject to space availability. However, there is relatively little route overlap between Bonza's routes and those operated by its bigger competitors.

Later on April 30, ch-aviation learned that Bonza will file for voluntary administration in the Australian courts and has appointed Hall Chadwick as administrator. The airline is also expected to announce an ongoing suspension of flights shortly.