This week Bonza is launching six new routes to three new destinations, including to its new base at Melbourne Airport.

Bonza B737 MAX 8 VH-UJT
Photo: Bonza

No longer a startup, Australia’s newest domestic airline Bonza is opening six more routes this week, just 55 days since its first flight departed the Sunshine Coast.

The app is the way to go at Bonza

Today marked the first flight to Cairns in tropical Far North Queensland and came on the same day Bonza announced sales on the Fly Bonza app had reached the 100,000 seats milestone.

Bonza Cairns Trip-9 27032023

Photo: Bonza

Bonza CEO Tim Jordan was on the flight, and before leaving the Sunshine Coast, he outlined just how quickly Bonza is building its route network and the success of the Fly Bonza app.

“It’s a massive week for Bonza, we have one new base launch in Melbourne, six new routes and three new destinations, starting today with Cairns, followed by Newcastle tomorrow and Melbourne Tullamarine this Thursday. This is our first route into Cairns, to be swiftly followed on Wednesday with the Mackay service and Friday with the Rockhampton service.”

“Amazingly, we have now sold more than 100,000 seats through the app for services on Bonza, which is really an incredible start, but it really is just the start.”

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Bonza Sunshine Coast - Cairns first flight

As is the way with all things Bonza, a purple haze descended on the Sunshine Coast Airport (MCY) this morning for the inaugural service to Cairns. Bonza flight AB583 was operated by Sheila, aka a Boeing 737 MAX 8 registration VH-UJK, which departed the Sunshine Coast at 07:31. After a 1:45 hour flight, the 737-8 landed at Cairns Airport (CNS) at 09:16, nineteen minutes earlier than scheduled.

Quite the welcome in Cairns

The Sunshine Coast – Cairns route will operate five times weekly, including a Friday to Monday option to accommodate passengers looking for a weekend away. The Cairns – Mackay and Cairns- Rockhampton flights will operate twice weekly.

Bonza Cairns Trip-20 270323

Photo: Bonza

People living on the Sunshine Coast now have a low-cost, direct flight to Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the wilderness of the Daintree Rainforest region. Conversely, those from Far North Queensland can be on the Sunshine Coast in around two hours to enjoy the surf beaches, and all the region has to offer. Jordan described the route as,

“A wonderful connection between two brilliant destinations.”


Photo: Sunshine Coast Airport

As the home of Bonza, Sunshine Coast Airport is going through its own growth spurt, with Bonza’s arrival bringing an additional 772,000 seats to the popular region. Those passengers will generate an estimated AU$86 million ($57 million) in visitor spending in the first twelve months, with Cairns one of the 13 destinations Bonza will service from the airport. CEO Andrew Brodie said:

“Our partnership with Bonza is an important milestone in our long-term plans for Sunshine Coast Airport which will see us welcome greater volumes of travellers, opening up opportunities not previously available.”

How hard is the new Sheila working?

Bonza now has four Boeing 737 MAX 8s, the family of Shazza, Bazza, Sheila and Malc. While they were built in 2019 and initially intended for use by LOT Polish Airlines, Bonza is, in fact, the first operator of these brand-new airplanes.

So after sitting in storage for around three years, how hard are they working as Bonza morphs into a fully functioning domestic airline?

Bonza Sheila Townsville Hi Res-2

Photo: Bonza

Last Friday, Sheila operated six flights, with the first departing Sunshine Coast Airport at 07:04 and the last returning to the MCY base at 20:56.

Between start and finish, the Boeing 737 flew from the Sunshine Coast to Townsville, followed by a Townsville to Rockhampton return, Townsville to Sunshine Coast, followed by a Sunshine Coast-Rockhampton-Sunshine Coast service.

Overall the airliner spent around seven hours flying and seven hours on the ground and visited four airports. A 14-hour shift is a stretch for most of us, so hats off to Sheila and the other Bonza 737-8s, the only MAX 8s in operation with an Australian airline.

Have you flown on a Bonza MAX 8? Let us know in the comments.


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