Bonza has announced a raft of schedule changes, including the removal of five routes from 01 August due to a lack of “sustainable demand”, as well as frequency reductions on other routes.
Three of the scrapped services operate from the Sunshine Coast, the Aussie carrier’s initial base, including the Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Tamworth flights. The Cairns to Mackay and Toowoomba Wellcamp to Whitsunday Coast services will also be removed.
“In order for us to earn your trust, as we know that we’re at the start of that journey, we have decided to take a step back to allow our services to become more reliable,” the airline’s Chief Commercial Officer Carley Povey explained.
“These changes allow us to maintain the many great aspects of the Bonza experience whilst also doubling down on consistently delivering reliability,” she added, highlighting the positive feedback the airline has received on its new planes, all-Aussie menu, and cabin crew.
The carrier said it will now focus on expanding its stronger performing routes, with its Albury and Melbourne services from the Sunshine Coast and Melbourne to Port Macquarie gaining an extra weekly frequency.
Sunshine Coast Airport has said it “fully supports” Bonza’s decision to cut the three services operated from the Queensland hub.
“The long-term success of Bonza is the most important thing, and by making these changes now, they are building the foundation for long-term sustainability in Australia,” the airport’s interim CEO Gary Allen told travelBulletin.
“By focusing on routes that are experiencing high demand, Bonza will continue to build on their network and a consistent and enhanced experience for our respective customers,” Allen said, adding that he welcomes Bonza’s additional services to Albury and Avalan, which come as a result of strong demand and good customer feedback.
“With Bonza continuing to call Sunshine Coast Airport home, our region will continue to be one of the most well connected in Queensland and we are committed to continuing our partnership as we look to new opportunities and destinations.”
Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport (WTB) has also backed Bonza’s decision to exit the Whitsunday Coast route, which it has operated from the regional airport since April.
“We don’t want to see any cancelled flights for our local people or the surrounding areas…but we understand that it is a business decision that they’ve had to make,” General Manager Kellie Banditt told tB.
She explained that Bonza’s Toowoomba service may have shown more potential if it launched in the summer season.
The lack of demand “could be seasonal”, she explained, suggesting that travellers prefer to visit regional destinations like Toowoomba in the warmer months.
“But we will support Bonza’s decision because as I said, we are here with Bonza for the long haul,” Banditt concluded.
TravelBulletin also spoke to Cairns and Mackay Airport CEO Richard Barker, who said that while the suspension of the Cairns to Mackay flights was “disappointing”, he understands the reasons behind Bonza’s decision.
“Positively, routes from Cairns to Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton are performing strongly with Bonza and we will continue to seek opportunities to grow future services,” he enthused.
Customers booked on routes impacted (between 01 August and 28 October) will be contacted by the airline and will automatically receive a full refund or alternate flights with Bonza.
The carrier also revealed it will move forward with establishing a third base, and is preparing to open up bookings shortly for its late October to April 2024 schedule.