Punted as Australia’s first independent low-fare start-up, Bonza has announced plans to launch to destinations across the country from early 2022 using all economy-class B737 MAXs, subject to regulatory approvals.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer Tim Jordan, in a statement, said the airline aims to fill a gap on regional routes, particularly into leisure destinations where travel is often limited. Jordan is a seasoned aviation professional and former executive with low-cost carriers Cebu Pacific Air, Virgin Blue Airlines, and most recently, FlyArystan.

Bonza is backed by US private investment firm 777 Partners, which also backs Canada's low-fare airline, Flair Airlines, and the Southeast Asian-based Value Alliance of low-cost airlines. Managing Partner, Josh Wander, said the investment firm sees “huge potential in the Australian market to deliver the benefits and options that an independent low-fare airline brings”.

Bonza’s PR echoes that of Flair, which calls itself a market disrupter. Flair operates a fleet of nine B737-8s and three B737-800s to 18 Canadian and six US destinations, promoting itself as a pioneer of ultra-low-fare travel with a “mission to liberate the lives of Canadians by providing affordable air travel”.

Speaking to the Australian media, Jordan acknowledged Bonza was modelled on Flair, as well as the US's Allegiant Air and the UK's Jet2, which he said successfully competed with low-cost giants easyJet and Ryanair on price but focused mostly on leisure destinations rather than frequent services between capital cities – something he plans to replicate in Australia.

Bonza will have to live up to its name - Australian slang for “very good” - as it will enter a fiercely competitive regional market dominated by Qantas low-cost subsidiary Jetstar Airways, Rex - Regional Express, and Virgin Australia

But Jordan plans to forego the east coast golden triangle of Sydney Kingsford Smith, Melbourne Tullamarine, and Brisbane Int'l, including point-to-point routes, he told Executive Traveller. He does not want to compete with the existing carriers, but rather grow the market. He has sent out expressions of interest to 46 airports across all Australian states and territories for the initial route network. “Our focus will absolutely be on routes which currently today are not operated by any incumbent airline. This is about opening up new routes and new markets, so the majority of the routes that we serve will not be operated by existing carriers.”

Bonza’s strategy would be to couple lower fares with fewer flights, given that leisure travellers have a more flexible timetable. “We will be about offering a generally low-frequency service – maybe two or three times a week – at a very low price. That's our model of operation,” he explained.

With a glut of affordable aircraft available thanks to COVID-19, he believed the time was right to start a new airline. The company expects to start off with “two or three” 186-seat B737 MAX leased through 777 Partners. “But depending on how we execute and regulator permitting, we’d expect to grow quite quickly thereafter,” Jordan said.