UPDATE – An Australian start-up budget carrier, Bonza, has stated its aim to begin operations in 2022, as the country moves forward with plans to open up its state and national borders. News reports indicate the company is backed by US investment firm 777 Partners and will compete alongside operators such as Qantas and Virgin Australia, as well as Jetstar and Regional Express (Rex). And there is more news about start-ups.

Founder and chief executive Tim Jordan told Reuters in an interview that pending regulatory approvals, Bonza will start domestic flying with two to three Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from the second quarter of 2022. The carrier is looking to base itself either in the state of New South Wales or Queensland and focus on leisure-driven routes which are underserved or not flown by rivals. Jordan said in an interview with CAPA Live on October 13 that Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane will be a central part of Bonza’s network, with a long-term view on Western Australia.

On the chosen aircraft type, the frequently asked questions section of Bonza’s website indicates the 737 MAX 8 aircraft is the type it will operate. The MAX will be configured with 186 seats. Jordan told CAPA that the aircraft were offered at the right price, something that might not have been the case two or three years ago. 

777 Partners is backing Bonza. On March 12, the company and Boeing announced a firm order for 24 MAX 8s and purchase rights for another sixty aircraft. Back then, founder and managing partner Joshua Wander said that 777 Partners wanted to invest more in the aviation sector: “The retrenchment of traditional carriers globally has created an unprecedented market opportunity for more agile and cost-efficient operators. These aircraft will enable our operators to accelerate the recovery in the destinations they serve. We are humbled to call one of America’s greatest manufacturers our partner in this endeavor.” 777 Partners, of course, has also invested in Canadian low-cost Flair. 

Meanwhile, Australia’s ABC News, quoting the company, reported that Australia is the only country out of the world’s top 15 domestic aviation markets without an independent low-cost carrier. Jetstar, a Qantas subsidiary, is the only known low-cost carrier in the country after the closure of Virgin Australia’s former low-cost subsidiary, Tigerair Australia, in 2020. Although Rex competes in the domestic market, Reuters described Rex’s offering as “mid-tier rather than low-cost”.

India’s Akasa Air secures ‘No Objection Certificate’ from government

India’s Akasa Air has secured a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) from the country’s Ministry of Civil Aviation, allowing the carrier to move forward with plans to start operations in 2022. A press release posted on Twitter shows the NOC was issued to a company called SNV Aviation, which will fly under the Akasa Air brand name.

The NOC is described as a legal document issued by an organization, institute, or individual to say that they have no objection to details mentioned in the document. It can be used for various purposes to nullify any objections made towards the affected party.

We are extremely happy and grateful to the Ministry of Civil Aviation for their support and for the grant of the NOC,” says Akasa Air chief executive Vinay Dube, who was previously the chief executive of Jet Airways prior to its grounding in April 2019. India Today reported that Akasa Air is backed by billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and Dube, and will operate under the ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) model. 

Hong Kong start-up Greater Bay Airlines secures AOC

Hong Kong start-up Greater Bay Airlines (GBA) has secured an air operator’s certificate (AOC) by authorities in the Chinese territory. The carrier and its chief executive Algernon Yau confirmed the receipt of the AOC through a press statement and LinkedIn post, respectively.

Although an AOC has been secured, a report by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) indicates that the carrier will still need to secure an air transport license necessary for it to operate regularly scheduled flights.

The SCMP report indicates awarding of the AOC by Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department (CAD) took place less than two weeks after the CAD oversaw a proving flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok. Yau, previously a senior executive at Cathay Pacific and chief executive of former subsidiary Cathay Dragon made two LinkedIn posts on the proving flight. GBA plans to launch services with two Boeing 737-800s but grow the fleet to seven aircraft in 2022 and even thirty in 2026.

GBA and other Hong Kong air carriers are scheduled to meet the local air licensing officials in December to review whether GBA should be granted the air transport license. SCMP reported in September that as a result of the December hearing, GBA is hoping to launch services in the first quarter of 2022.

As for GBA, its press release with frequently asked questions mentions it has applied for an air transport license to cover 104 destinations across Asia-Pacific, with Bangkok, Phuket, and Singapore being named as the destinations it plans to serve, pending regulatory approval and an improvement in the Covid-19 situation.

To date, GBA has leased three Boeing 737-800s and intends to have seven aircraft by end-2022. The plan is to operate around 30 aircraft by 2026, subject to market demand and recovery from Covid-19.

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