Mon. May 20th, 2024

Following a series of bird strikes that have grounded planes, new airline Bonza has been forced to change their schedule, including dropping the service between Tamworth and the Sunshine Coast. The Melbourne to Tamworth service will continue twice a week.

Bonza has an open letter to customers communicating changes it will be making in order to “earn the respect of Aussie travellers”. The letter, shared on the airline’s social media channels, outlines changes to its route map and schedule that are designed to set the airline up for long-term success and reduce the likelihood of cancellations. Tweaks to new routes are normal as demand is established, however the Bonza move was made more urgent by an unlucky series of bird strikes – 10 such incidents in just 9 weeks.

Penned by Carly Povey, the airline’s Chief Commercial Officer, the letter shares that five routes (Sunshine Coast to Coffs Harbour, Sunshine Coast to Port Macquarie, Sunshine Coast to Tamworth, Cairns to Mackay and Toowoomba Wellcamp to Whitsunday Coast) will be removed from the airline’s initial route map whilst other routes will have their frequencies reduced. Three of the many strong performing routes, namely Sunshine Coast to Albury, Sunshine Coast to Melbourne (Avalon) plus Melbourne to Port Macquarie, will welcome an additional flight each week. 

“We’ve been compelled to take out five routes where there isn’t sustainable demand at present. Twenty two routes remain and where there is very strong demand, we’re also starting to add in additional flights which is very positive this early on in Bonza’s journey,” said Povey. 

She went on to say that the feedback from customers has been positive particularly around Bonza’s new planes, all Aussie menu and legends whilst acknowledging that not everyone has had a good experience, specifically those impacted by cancellations and delays.

“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. We will be implementing a range of changes to our schedule from 1 August based on what we have learnt so far and the feedback you’ve given us with regards to route demand. You could say, we’re taking a step back to allow us to take a leap forward,” she added.

Bonza thanked the Tamworth community for their ongoing support.

“To set Bonza up for long-term success, we will be making changes across our network including from Tamworth, specifically we’re removing flights to/from Sunshine Coast as there has not been enough customer demand.”

“We’ve seen phenomenal support from the Tamworth community towards our Melbourne services so those will continue.”

“We thank Tamworth Regional Airport and council for its ongoing support,” she said.

Customers booked on routes impacted (from 1st August to 28th October) will be contacted by the airline via SMS and will automatically receive a full refund or alternate flights with Bonza, depending on their scenario.

“To those customers who have or will face a cancelled flight – we apologise. Please wait for our team to contact you,” Ms Povey said.

“Australia has been waiting for a new airline and you’ve welcomed us with open arms and it is on us to deliver more consistently. These changes allow us to maintain the many great aspects of the Bonza experience whilst also doubling down on consistently delivering reliability,” she said.

Tamworth Regional Council is aware of the cancelled Bonza route between Tamworth and Sunshine Coast.

“We are of course disappointed to be losing the Sunshine Coast services due to a lack of passenger numbers, however whilst these have been low, the Bonza Melbourne services are performing very well and hence will continue to operate twice weekly,” said Jacqueline O’Neill, Director of Growth and Prosperity for Tamworth Regional Council.

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