Australian low-cost start-up Bonza has operated its first commercial flight, less than three weeks after clinching its air operator’s certificate.

On 31 January, flight AB777 – operated by a Boeing 737 Max 8 (VH-UIK, MSN43975) – took off from Sunshine Coast airport to Whitsunday Coast. Flight tracking data shows the maiden sortie lasted about 1h 20min.

Bonza 737 Max 8

Source: Bonza

Australian low-cost startup Bonza took delivery of its first Boeing 737 Max 8 on 1 August

Airline chief Tim Jordan hails the occasion as a “milestone”, noting that two cities – popular tourist destinations for Australians – is not currently served by direct flights.

Bonza, in a statement announcing its launch, adds: “The historic flight is said to be a game changer for both tourism markets as well as friends and family who can ditch the 12h drive in place of a direct flight.”

Bonza, Australia’s first independent low-cost carrier in nearly a decade, is backed by Miami private equity firm 777 Partners, which also owns Canadian low-cost operator Flair Airlines.

The airline in August 2022 took delivery of its first Boeing 737 Max 8, which came from 777 Partners’ orderbook. It currently has three Max 8s in its fleet.

Bonza, Australian slang for excellent or first-rate, touts a different operating model from other low-cost operators: point-to-point services from secondary cities in Australia, eschewing operations within the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

The airline on 31 January says its initial route map includes 27 routes to 17 domestic cities.