Australia’s Bonza on football shirts but no news of first flight

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As Australians eagerly await newcomer Bonza to shake up the domestic market, the airline has found a way to get its brand noticed. Rather than on a billboard or bus, Bonza announced a sponsorship deal with Australian football (soccer) team, Melbourne Victory.

The sponsorship deal is worth up to A$8 million ($5.22 million) and will initially run for four seasons. Bonza’s name and logo will be embossed on the front of Melbourne Victory game shirts, or jerseys, as they are called here. In a further sign of the airline’s commitment to both Melbourne Victory and the Australian operation, Bonza owner 777 Partners will take a minority stake in the club. Melbourne Victory is a very popular team in the nationally televised Australian Soccer League (ASL). Bonza’s profile will therefore be considerably improved during the summer season.


When will Bonza start flying?

Bonza is working with CASA to complete the Australian certification process in order to begin operations. Photo: Bonza

Raising Bonza’s profile will no doubt raise the question of when the airline will launch its flights. It’s been a year since we first heard about Bonza, and while no firm launch has been announced, it was originally expected to be around the middle of this year. In May, that was brought forward to September, with excitement building when Bonza’s first Boeing 737 MAX 8 arrived in July, with a second due to follow.

For the latest update on a possible launch date, Simple Flying reached out to Bonza today, with airline chief commercial officer Carly Povey telling us:

“We fully comply with the regulatory process and continue to work with CASA [Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority] above. They do extremely important aviation regulatory work in Australia, and we respect the process we go through with them. We are wrong to say when this process will be completed. We will continue to update Australian travellers, as we have done before, as soon as we have more updates on all things Bonza.”

The process Povey refers to is obtaining the all-important Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). The first 737 MAX 8, registered VH-UJT, was built in 2019 and initially intended for a career with LOT Polish Airlines, which failed to fly again. The second 737 MAX 8, VH-UIK, was also destined for LOT Polish Airlines but is now slowly finding its way to Australia and into the arms of Bonza. On September 29, the aircraft moved from Seattle Boeing Field (BFI) for a one-hour flight to Canada’s Calgary International Airport, an airport served by fellow 777 Partners operator, Flair Airlines.

The third MAX 8 is on the move

According to, the third Bonza 737 is registered VH-UJK and is now at Seattle Boeing Field (BFI). On Tuesday, it left the warehouse at Victorville Logistics Airport (VCV) in Southern California, heading for BFI, but took a short detour to Everett Paine Field (PAE) before continuing. So the fledgling airline has one plane on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, one in Calgary and the third in Seattle as it negotiates the AOC process with CASA.

Emirates is probably the premier airline for football sponsors, mainly thanks to its association with British football clubs. However, 777 Partners, through its 777 Football group, is building its own football empire, with a network including Genoa CFC (Italy), Vasco da Gama (Brazil), Standard de Liège (Belgium) and Red Star FC in France. He also has a significant minority stake in Spain’s Sevilla FC and now owns a stake in Melbourne Victory.

The jersey will be widely advertised on TV and in the media, but will Bonza be able to find a niche in Australia’s crowded market? What do you think?

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