The founder of the new Australian budget airline Bonza has told the Australian Aviation Podcast that 30 airports have already “responded positively” to a request to launch routes.
Tim Jordan also doubled down on criticism against the airline for not having a confirmed network in place ahead of its launch next year, arguing its financial backer, 777 Partners, is here for the long term.
Bonza broke cover earlier this month to reveal a plan to fly ‘point to point’ leisure routes not serviced by Qantas, Virgin, and Rex with a fleet of two to three new 737 MAXs.
Speaking on the Australian Aviation Podcast, set to be released on Wednesday, Jordan said, “On the morning we made the announcement, we actually sent out a request for interest to about 45 different airports across the country, saying, ‘Would you like to be our airport partners? If you’d like new routes, probably not offered currently by existing airlines, put your hand up and let us know how you can incentivize us to do that and we will bring you many more customers.’
“And I have to say, we’ve been very positively received by those airport partners. I think the last time I looked, more than 30 airports had responded positively already.
“And we are still three weeks away from the timeline for them to respond. So, there’s been a very eager response from many airports across the country.”
Jordan also emphasized that the airline’s very low-cost base and use of fuel-efficient aircraft such as the 737 MAX meant it would be able to drive costs “incredibly low”, while also having significant investment.
“777 partners, are a private investment firm based in Miami,” said Jordan. “They have about 50 different portfolio companies and we are obviously now one of them. They have a significant share of Canada’s only independent low-cost operator, Flair Airlines, and are familiar with this industry sector.
“In terms of assets under management, the last time I looked, they had assets under management of nearly $6 billion US. So, they’re significant. And most importantly, they’re not getting into this short-term venture. They’re getting in this for the long term.”
The business only announced its launch weeks ago and said then fares will be up to 40 percent lower than its competitors.
Unlike rivals, Virgin, Qantas, Jetstar, and Rex, the new airline will focus on routes not currently served by existing operators and would be limited to a handful of services each week.
Co-founder Rick Howell was previously Virgin Blue’s general manager of flight operations, while Jordan was its chief commercial officer, who subsequently became the architect of Kazakhstan airline FlyArystan.
Earlier on Tuesday, Bonza released new details on its executive team, with another ex-Virgin Blue senior manager joining the ranks.
Peter McNally, a former senior operational manager for Virgin Blue and former Swissport vice-president of airports and commercial, has been welcomed to the team as Bonza’s chief operating officer.
McNally was also previously COO of Airnorth in Darwin, chief advisor for operations for Indian LCC IndiGo, and earlier, vice-president for network operations at Qatar Airways.
Bonza also announced the appointment of former Jetstar executive Carly Povey as its chief commercial officer.
Povey joins from her current role as general manager for engagement and liaison at Australia Post. She has over 15 years of experience in aviation, including previous roles at Tigerair, EasyJet, Jet2, and Leeds Bradford Airport.
Povey will head up Bonza’s brand, marketing, communications, and customer channels, as well as be responsible for network and scheduling, product, and pricing.
Lidia Valenzuela also joins the Bonza c-suite team as chief financial officer and is noted as a co-founder and executive director.
Valenzuela has over two decades’ experience in accounting and senior finance roles and joins from her current role as group chief financial officer at Superloop.