Australian low-fare start-up Bonza (Sunshine Coast) has announced it will operate up to eight 186-seater B737-8s in its first year of operation, subject to regulatory approval.

Speaking at the CAPA Australia Pacific 2021 Aviation Summit in Sydney on December 8, Chief Executive Officer Tim Jordan confirmed the aircraft will be leased from Bonza’s US-based majority shareholder 777 Partners, which operates its own leasing company.

He said discussions were continuing with many airports around Australia and an announcement of initial routes and aircraft bases could be expected in the coming weeks. Of 46 airports approached, Jordan said up to 40 have responded positively, Reuters reported.

“We are thrilled to share our commitment to operating up to eight aircraft within the first 12 months of operation. This is another way in which we are focussed on creating new market growth opportunities for regional Australian destinations, better connecting all of Australia, and in turn, stimulating direct and indirect job opportunities for the aviation and tourism industry,” Jordan said.

Last week, Bonza announced several key appointments including its Head of People and Culture, Head of Flying Operations, Head of Airport Operations, Head of Engineering and Maintenance, and Head of Finance. These joined Carly Povey as Chief Commercial Officer, Peter McNally as Chief Operating Officer, and Lidia Valenzuela as Chief Financial Officer.

As reported previously, Bonza is looking to fill a market gap on neglected tourist routes by early 2022 while being based in regional Australia.

The carrier is still in the certification process and also still needs approval from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board due to the involvement of its US-based shareholder, which also backs Canadian ultra-low-cost carrier Flair Airlines (F8, Kelowna).

Bonza’s announcement followed that by Boeing (BOE, Washington National) and 777 Partners on December 7 that the Miami-based investment firm had nearly doubled its B737 MAX order book with the purchase of 30 additional jets. The new order – which includes the high-capacity B737-8-200 model - expands 777 Partners' commercial aircraft portfolio to a total of sixty-eight B737 MAX.