Bonza airlines: Almost 60,000 customers could become creditors as defunct carrier’s financial woes air in court

Alex Mitchell
The Nightly
2 Min Read
All Bonza flights were cancelled after its financial woes terminated its lease agreements on planes.
All Bonza flights were cancelled after its financial woes terminated its lease agreements on planes. Credit: AAP

Nearly 60,000 Bonza customers are in line to become creditors of the embattled airline as the budget carrier’s financial struggles hit court.

Lawyers for the newly appointed administrators of the airline were in the Federal Court on Tuesday asking to hold their first creditors’ meeting in just three days’ time.

But how, when and where that meeting would be held were all points of contention as Justice Elizabeth Cheeseman queried why it would operate out of Sydney given the airline did not fly from the city.

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All Bonza flights were cancelled a week earlier after the airline’s financial woes forced lease agreements on a fleet of Boeing 737-8 planes to be terminated.

Barrister James Hutton SC, representing administrators Hall Chadwick, said almost 60,000 passengers could potentially become creditors after many of their bookings were cancelled.

About two-thirds of that number had opened an email outlining the administration process as of Monday morning, he added.

Mr Hutton applied for a hybrid model for the creditors’ meeting in which 200 people could attend in person and the others would watch online, pointing out that catering to a predicted 20,000 attendees would require a stadium.

But Justice Cheeseman questioned the choice of Sydney as the host venue and asked if more than three days should be allowed before the meeting to give more time for the potential creditors to vote in a bloc.

Hall Chadwick previously said insufficient cashflow and funding had stopped Bonza from operating but added that lessors reclaiming planes, forcing the sudden cancellation of flights, was unexpected.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the budget airline’s collapse was another example of the difficult industry and more needed to be done to protect consumer rights.

“What we have seen over a period of time is that the aviation industry is a really tough industry and we have seen a range over recent decades of cheap airlines form, keep going for a little while, and not last,” he told ABC Radio.

Opposition Senator Bridget McKenzie said the government should outline how it would help Bonza workers who were out of a job, as well as the affected customers.

She also called for an investigation into Bonza’s financial backers 777 Partners, who also own the majority share of A-Leagues club Melbourne Victory.

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