Bonza chairman steps down 3 months after operations commence

A Bonza Airlines Boeing 737 on the tarmac.
Photo Credit: Bonza Airlines

The new Aussie start-up low-cost carrier Bonza Airlines has seen the departure of its chairman just three months after its first official flight operation kicked off.

According to documentation filed with the Australian corporate regulator, Bonza chairman Rick Howell stepped down from the board of the airline Bonza in the private equity owner holding company 777 Partners late last month.

Planned departure

According to Australian news source the Financial Review, it had always been the plan for chairman Rick Howell to step down from the role after steering the new start-up airline to its initial launch.

In this context, a spokesman for 777 Partners said that Howell had “played a key role in laying the foundation for Bonza’s successful operation in Australia.”

“777 Partners is deeply thankful to Rick for his important contribution to the successful launch of Bonza and looks forward to continuing to work with him on global aviation projects,” said the spokesman in a statement.

Bonza commencement of operations. Photo Credit: Bonza

Bonza Airlines start-up January 2023

The new Australian low-cost carrier officially commenced operations in January this year.

For the start-up airline, the lead up process with certification approvals had been something of a protracted one. The bureaucratic process being what it is, Bonza had previously anticipated an operation start-up of mid-year 2022.


Operating a fleet of new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, the carrier has progressively worked towards extending its network across 17 planned regional locations through the Australian east coast states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

A key to Bonza’s start-up strategy is that of the 27 planned routes, 25 of them are not currently being served by current air operators.

Passengers disembark a Bonza Airlines Boeing 737.
Photo Credit: Bonza Airlines

Current fleet

The Australian carrier currently operates a fleet of 4 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, ranging in age from 3.5 to 4 years.

A further 737 MAX 8, which has been registered VH-UDV and planned as the fifth induction into the airline’s fleet has now been seconded by 777 Partners ‘sister airline’ Flair Airlines and will be reregistered to operate in Canada.

The aircraft would have operated in the capacity of a ‘spare’ for Bonza, but has been redirected to the ultra-low-cost carrier Flair Airlines after the Canadian airline lost for aircraft in repossessions.

Flair Airlines

In March 2023, in what was described as a “commercial dispute”, four aircraft on lease to the Canadian carrier Flair Airlines were seized by the lessor, Airborne Capital.

The aircraft were seized in Toronto, Edmonton and Waterloo, Ontario, resulting in an impact on the airlines flight scheduling.

Subsequently, on March 14th 2023, Flair Airlines filed a lawsuit against Airborne Capital with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Flair Airlines is a Canadian ultra-low-cost carrier that was founded in 2005 as a charter airline.

The airline is based in Edmonton, Alberta, and operates scheduled passenger services to various destinations across Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Flair Airlines, like Bonza, operates a fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which are configured with all-economy class seating.

The private equity holding company 777 Partners owns both Bonza and Flair Airlines.

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
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