Bonza has just cleared the last regulatory certifications and safety tests and now looks to begin flights in Australia.

Bonza, Australia’s new low-cost carrier, has finally received regulatory certification and is set to begin domestic flights to regional airports across Queensland and other parts of Australia. The airline, which has made the promise to provide cheap flights, has been delayed for an entire year after overestimating its launch date before completing the proper regulatory process that included safety examinations, commercial feasibility, and test flights to ensure that it met Australian airline standards.

The airline, which is the first budget carrier to launch in Australia since Tigerair 15 years ago, is being financially supported by 777 Partners, a private investment company based in Miami. The CEO of Bonza, Tim Jordan, has expressed confidence in the future of the airline and hailed the announcement as “a historic moment for Australian aviation.”

Tigerair, which was also launched as a “budget airline,” back in 2007, before it quickly added baggage fees in the following year to try and recoup costs. The parallels between Tigerair and Bonza are a bit troublesome. Tigerair wasn’t profitable until 2010 and was soon purchased by Virgin Australia in 2013. The airline eventually shut down in 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tigerair was involved in a number of disputes with pilots and other staff for low pay and poor working conditions. These conditions eventually forced the workers to strike in 2017. When looking at Bonza’s mission statement of cheap flights, it begs the question, “at what cost?” We have yet to see what Bonza is offering as wages to its future employees.

This is all too commonplace in Australia’s airline industry as the attack on workers’ wages and working conditions has been underway for decades. In 1989, 1,700 pilots on strike for better wages were undermined by both the federal government and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, who together, mobilized the Royal Australian Air Force as scab workers to defeat the strike. 1,300 pilots were fired following the strike.

In the subsequent decades, deregulation and the privatization of the Trans-Australian Airline (TAA) have allowed “budget airlines” to step into the arena and continually cut operation costs, which includes the stifling of workers’ wages.

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Bonza will provide services to 17 airports, catering primarily to Cairns, the Whitsunday Coast, Melbourne, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, and Mildura. Sydney is not included on the list, as the airline wants to focus on giving “people in the regions more choice.”

Passengers aboard a Bonza flight will initially board one of eight Boeing 737-8 Max aircraft leased from 777 Partners, with more on the way if the airline grows. Three planes have already been delivered, and their names are Sheila, Shazza, and Bazza. Passengers can also purchase a range of Bonza branded merchandise, including budgie establishments and bikinis.

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