THE WHITSUNDAYS has made aviation history after Australia’s newest airline touched down at the Whitsunday Coast Airport for the first time, on Tuesday, January 31.
Bonza’s first customers boarded the airline’s first ever flight from its home base, on the Sunshine Coast, and flew to Whitsunday Coast Airport, Proserpine.
The flight was farewelled on the ground on the Sunshine Coast by Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Cameron Dick and Minister for Tourism Stirling Hinchliffe.
Tuesday’s route to the Whitsundays was the first of 27 to be gradually rolled out to a total of 17 destinations, after Bonza went on sale on Friday, January 27, with flights starting from $49 to $79 per person (one way).
Bonza’s unique business strategy is all about connecting underrepresented, regional and rural destinations.
The historic flight is said to be a gamechanger for both tourism markets and friends and family, who can ditch the 12-hour drive in place of a direct flight.
After the first flight touched down at Whitsunday Coast Airport, Mayor Julie Hall welcomed the Bonza team and passengers from the Sunshine Coast, after returning to the region on the flight herself.
“This gives our region an amazing opportunity, to bring to the Whitsundays 1,034 extra seats from routes that are not currently serviced,” Mayor Hall said.
“So, this is a big opportunity for the Whitsundays – our Whitsunday Coast Airport is council-public owned, so it is one of our public assets.
“We’re really hoping that with Bonza we’ll hit over 5,000 passengers this year and that’s a record in the 70-year history of the airport.”
Bonza CEO Tim Jordan said the Bonza team was excited to be connecting two popular holiday destinations.
“Our team of legends couldn’t be more excited to begin connecting Aussies for holidays and time with loved ones,” he said.
“Today’s milestone flight comes at a time when demand is high for Aussies to explore their own backyard.”
Since going on sale, Aussies have embraced the opportunity to book a seat on the app with more than 10,000 seats sold.
Bonza’s chief commercial officer Carly Povey said the decision to limit sales to the Bonza app and travel agents is a measure to ensure proactive and meaningful customer communication.
“We’re in a world post COVID where everybody has a smart phone around them, and more people than ever are used to adopting technology,” Ms Povey said.
“We’re also in a world where the industry realises there are a few things that, structurally, are a little bit broken in terms of how you quickly communicate with customers, how you do it in a meaningful way.
“If we want to super charge that proactive customer communication, we need to find a way to communicate consistently with them.
“The very large majority of our bookings have come through the app, we’re seeing a very large uptake in that.”
Travellers will be able to lock away holiday plans for Easter, school holidays and long weekends, with flights available to book up until late October 2023.
“It’s important that Aussie travellers know we’re on sale, not having a sale,” Ms Povey said.
“We’re committed to low-cost fares, which will in turn stimulate new markets for Australia’s domestic tourism industry.”