Thursday, August 24, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
The Whitsundays helped to make aviation history this week when the first ever Bonza aircraft landed its inaugural flight at the Whitsunday Cost Airport on Tuesday morning.
With flights starting from just $49, Bonza aims to be here for ‘Allstralia’ and will open the Whitsundays up to new markets that would not have previously been able to access or afford a holiday to the region.
The new low-cost airline will also allow Whitsunday residents to fly directly to Sunshine Coast, Toowomba and Newcastle, opening up more opportunity to visit family and friends in previously unconnected areas.
The Whitsunday Coast Airport was buzzing with excitement on Tuesday morning when the highly anticipated Bonza flight touched down on schedule, bringing with it 160 passengers from its home base in the Sunshine Coast.
Chief Operating Officer of Whitsunday Coast Airport, Craig Turner, said this flight represented the beginning of a new era for local travel which will open our region up to 2.5 million people that would not otherwise be able to get here conveniently or cost-effectively.
“This is 15 months’ worth of negotiation, communication and organisation,” he said.
“We’ve built a magnificent relationship with Bonza and to see the first aircraft land and know that they are going to bring 134,000 seats to the Whitsundays is incredible.”
“It places us very well to exceed over 500,000 passengers this year which will be the first time in the 70-year history of the airport.”
Bonza Airlines will service 27 different routes across Australia, 17 of which went on sale last week.
93 per cent of these flight paths are not currently served by any other airline and 96 per cent currently have no low-cost carrier.
Within two days of opening ticket sales, Bonza sold 10,000 seats, many of them booked for the Whitsundays.
Chief Commercial Officer of Bonza, Carly Hovey, said they chose to make their inaugural flight to the Whitsundays because of the warm welcome they were given when scouting locations the previous year.
“When we made the largest network announcement in Australia aviation history a year ago, we travelled to all our destinations,” said Carly.
“And when we came to the Whitsundays there were around 200 people that had come along to meet us, to thank us, and to explain what a difference it would make.”
“They all chanted Bonza for five minutes – the support has been phenomenal!”
Bonza airline is the only low-cost airline to launch in Australia in the last 15 years and its presence will make the market a much more competitive place.
All interactions, from ticket sales to in-flight meals, are only able to be made through the Bonza app and many other services are streamlined, sustainable and modern.
“This is a chance to fly like you’ve never been able to before,” said Carly.
“There are now choices that have never before been available, we thank you for your support, and we are delighted that we are here today to deliver on our commitment.”
Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Whitsundays, Rick Hamilton, said that a whole new market will now be able to visit the Whitsundays.
“When fares are maintained at such a low price it actually means there is a whole new customer coming into the region that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to come here,” he explained.
“It’s a big injection for the region and we will see countless long-term benefits.”
Craig Turner said he has big plans for the future and that he is looking forward to opening even more routes with a variety of aircraft carriers over the coming year.
He hopes this will include a seasonal 10-week period of direct flights to Canberra.
“This will bring people up out of their winter, but it would also mean the Whitsundays could be the gateway to the snow!” he said.
1: The first passengers disembark
2: Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox MP, Chief Commercial Officer of Bonza, Carly Hovey and Chief Operating Officer of Whitsunday Coast Airport, Craig Turner
3: Mayor Julie Hall welcomes the first Bonza Flight
4: Tourism Whitsundays Chair Julie Telford, Mayor Julie Hall and Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Whitsundays Rick Hamilton at the long table lunch in Airlie Beach
5: Bonza CEO Tim Jordan makes a speech
6: The dedicated team from Whitsunday Coast Airport