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Bonza plane flies out of Australia

Written by on May 9, 2024

The first of the five planes once in Bonza’s fleet has made its way overseas following the company’s failure to renegotiate its forced grounding.

The Boeing 737, known lovingly as “Bruce”, departed for Honolulu on Thursday morning under the flight tag of Canada’s budget airline Flair, the aircraft’s co-owner. It left from Sunshine Coast airport shortly after 9am.

According to online flight tracking data, Bruce is set to refuel in Hawaii, but its next port is not yet listed.

Bruce was the newest addition to the Bonza fleet. The four remaining Bonza planes, nicknamed Shazza, Malc, Sheila and Bazza, remain parked at Sunshine Coast airport, Gold Coast airport and Melbourne airport.

Bonza did not immediately reply to comment on what would happen to the remainder of the fleet.

As a co-owned plane split between Flair and Bonza, Bruce sported an unorthodox dual paint job that spotlighted both carriers.

Barrister James Hutton SC, who is acting for the administrators, on Thursday told a hastily convened sitting of the Federal Court that as of Wednesday afternoon, 6242 people had responded to an email address set up for Bonza’s creditors and a further 1160 had replied to an email address set up for out-of-pocket customers.

A further 1444 emails had been received after 4pm on Wednesday, the court was told.

Of those, 1888 creditors had provided a proof of debt, Justice Elizabeth Cheeseman was told.

Mr Hutton said a “significantly lower” number of creditors would be admitted into Friday’s meeting to vote.

The court was previously told that the company had more than 60,000 creditors, including 323 employees who were owed wages and annual leave, 120 trade creditors and 57,933 customers with forward bookings.

Mr Hutton noted that creditors would still be allowed to submit proofs of debt in the future to become eligible to vote at later meetings.

On Tuesday, Bonza announced all flights from May 8 to 14 would be cancelled and staff would remain stood down in the period.

In the same statement, the carrier shared its lenders were seeking to reposition the fleet elsewhere.

Bonza does not own any of the planes in its fleet, instead leasing them.

These agreements were terminated on April 30 after the airline had defaulted on its loans the previous month.

A court hearing previously revealed that almost 60,000 customers had been left without compensation for ticket purchases by the airline.

“The administrators confirm that they are not in a position to process or issue refunds on behalf of (Bonza) at this time,” Tuesday’s statement reads.

“Customers who have had their flights cancelled should contact their financial institution to discuss available options.”

As reported by The Australian, former Virgin Blue pilot Jeremy de Lore has been tasked with transitioning the aircraft between operators.

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The entry into administration for the airline has driven a surge of activity in the Facebook group Scum of the Air, established in January for those seeking to troubleshoot complaints against Bonza.

As of writing, membership sits at just below 2200.

“By sharing your experiences and stories, we can collectively raise awareness and hold Bonza Airlines accountable for their actions,” the group’s About page reads.