The first plane from Australia’s new domestic airline, Bonza, has arrived at its new home on the Sunshine Coast.
The Boeing 737 MAX, designated flight AB001, took off from Boeing’s facilities in Seattle on Friday, stopping in Hawaii and Fiji to refuel before landing on the Sunshine Coast.
Bonza hopes to launch flights from September, pending regulatory approval, and plans to initially fly to 17 destinations on 27 routes. Twenty-five of those routes are currently not served by other airlines, according to Bonza.
It is the first new airline to launch in Australia since defunct Tigerair in 2007, which closed due to the pandemic.
“This is an exciting time for Australian aviation and, more importantly, for the Australian traveling public who will now benefit from greater choice,” said Bonza Chief Executive Tim Jordan.
Jordan has previously said the low-cost carrier’s fares will be around half the price of those offered by full-service airlines and similar to Jetstar’s.
As well as the Sunshine Coast, expected destinations include Albury, Bundaberg, Cairns, Coffs Harbour, Gladstone, Mackay, Mildura, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Rockhampton, Toowoomba Wellcamp, Townsville and the Whitsunday Coast.
Bonza will fly to Melbourne Airport but not Sydney, with Jordan citing better commercial terms and landing slots offered at other facilities.
The interiors of the new Bonza aircraft will be completed in Australia. The single-class cabin will have 186 seats with different seating options, depending on the airline.
“It just seems like we’re bringing our first plane back to have the finishing touches done locally by Australians,” Jordan said.
Bonza has already violated some Australian aviation conventions, even before its launch.
The airline will only sell fares through its own app – reservations will not be available through third-party websites. It will also have Australia’s first gender-neutral uniform rules for its cabin crew, allowing staff to mix and match a variety of clothing options.
Bonza’s aircraft is the first Boeing 737 MAX to be based in Australia and will be part of a fleet of new aircraft. The airline expects a second MAX plane to arrive later this month and another in September, with a total of eight to be delivered in its first year of operation.
The 737 MAX, which first entered service in 2017, was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after a faulty flight stabilization system saw two of the planes involved in fatal crashes, killing more than 300 people.
The US Federal Aviation Administration cleared the aircraft to return to service in November 2020 after modifications were made.
Virgin Australia also has four 737 MAX planes on order, down from an initial order of 23.
The 737 MAX offers 15% fuel savings over previous versions of the 737.
The arrival of the 737 MAX comes a day after Jetstar took delivery of its first Airbus A320neo, the MAX’s arch-rival, with a similar size, range and fuel efficiency.
See also: Bigger seats, longer range: Jetstar’s new Airbus lands
Read also: Return of the superjumbo: airlines still fly A380s to Australia