Christmas travel plans for thousands of holidaygoers have been thrown into chaos after a budget airline scrapped flights between two major Australian cities.
Australia’s newest low-cost airline Bonza has cancelled flights between Darwin and the Gold Coast during the entirety of December, making the announcement on Thursday.
The airline’s first flight between the two cities was due to take off last week however the carrier has blamed ‘regulatory approval processes’ for the issue.
Budget airline Bonza (pictured) has cancelled flights sending Christmas travel plans for thousands of Aussies into chaos
The announcement has thrown Christmas travel plans into disarray with around 1,600 customers affected by the cancellations.
The airline said around 1,100 customers have now been offered flights to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast instead.
CEO of Bonza Tim Jordan said in a statement that flights to the Gold Coast will now be run by their Canadian counterparts Flair as the budget airline continues to hire more staff.
‘As we’ve previously shared, in the short term we will use an aircraft leased from our partner Flair at our Gold Coast base whilst we recruit Aussie crew for this third base,’ Mr Jordan said.
‘This arrangement brings with it a separate regulatory approval process. That process is progressing but is not yet complete and as a result, we’ve had to make the regrettable decision to defer some flights between Gold Coast and Darwin in the coming weeks.’
‘We are acutely aware of the impact this has on our customers and we are very sorry for this.’
Mr Jordan said the airline is working with customers impacted by the cancellation and said they would provide a full refund to those who are now unable to travel due to the cancellation.
‘At this point our priority is to assist our impacted customers as efficiently as possible so that they can make alternative arrangements,’ Mr Jordan said.
The airline’s CEO Tim Jordan blamed the cancellation on ‘regulatory approval processes’
Bonza announced the Darwin to Gold Coast route in September along with two other travel routes between Darwin and the Sunshine Coast and Alice Springs to Melbourne.
Flights between Darwin to the Gold Coast were set to commence in late November.
The scrapped flights have disrupted the travel plans of Aussies such as father of three Corey Reichstein, after he saved up to take his family down to the Gold Coast for their first holiday in five years.
‘We pretty much spent all of our savings getting the money together to fly into the Gold Coast, and the theme parks with the kids,’ Mr Reichstein told the ABC.
‘Yesterday (Thursday), we got an email from Bonza explaining that they couldn’t actually fly us into the Gold Coast.’
The flights were supposed to be flying to the Gold Coast (pictured) from Darwin with many Aussies now forced to make alternative travel plans
The airline said more around 1,100 customers have been offered flights to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast (pictured) instead
The airline said flights between the Gold Coast and Darwin would resume in January 2024.
Bonza entered the Australian airline market in January 2023 as ‘Australia’s new and only independent, low cost airline’.
The airline operates several flights across multiple interstate destinations including NSW and Victoria.