Omicron and COVID-19 have had a devastating effect on the business of flying. The cost of both domestic and international airfares has plummeted and business travel is at a virtual standstill.
It’s all good news for now for the flying public. The question is: how long can it last?
For the moment, let’s make hay while the sun shines. Qantas launched its global sale earlier this year with flights between Sydney and Brisbane starting from $99 and Sydney to Fiji, from $541 return.
Jetstar has a special “Half Off Flights” sale where fares between Sydney to Hamilton Island start from $82, Newcastle to the Gold Coast from $44 and Launceston to Melbourne from $40.
Internationally, British Airways this week revealed it would resume flights between Australia and the United Kingdom with fares starting from $1407 return. The airline will resume the Kangaroo route from May 2022.
According to American consultancies, low-cost carriers will come out on top this year, attracting travellers with their lower price points and increased frequency of short-haul routes.
In Australia, the dog-fght is intensifying. A new domestic airline, Bonza, will launch in the middle of the year that will take on the likes of Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Rex with a small fleet of brand-new 737-8 MAX planes.
And while Australia’s main carriers compete for metro destinations, Bonza will aim to connect regional travellers with other regional hubs.
According to Tim Jordan, the CEO of Bonza, the airline hopes to connect up to 20 regional destinations and significant holiday spots that currently do not have nonstop flights.
The airline will target leisure travellers with all-economy flights from regional New South Wales and Queensland. Mr Jordan told Explore that in order to keep costs down, Bonza will operate just a few times a week for customers looking for a week-long holiday or a weekend away.
“In terms of airline models, the best reference point would be some of the low-cost carriers in Europe or North America, which join up large regional centres.
“It’s all about the leisure customer and delivering quality. Not a fan of low-cost brands that have a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude to passengers, Bonza is all about repeat leisure customers.”
Mr Jordan reinforces that Bonza is designed for leisure travellers looking for aspirational destinations.
“Our core airline product will be very different. Most of our routes will not be flown by other airlines. This is about creating a brand-new product.
“So, if you’re a business traveller, Bonza will not appeal to you. If you’re looking for flights three times a day, Bonza will not appeal to you.
Bonza will be delivering to an unserved or under-served market, where there is no airline operator.”
He said that some of the top destinations people are searching for are placed like the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, the Whitsundays, Cairns, Coffs Harbour, parts of the Northern Territory and Tasmania.
But the key difference is that Bonza will be linking regional hubs with other regional hubs.
“The response we’ve had has been very favourable. People are waiting to see what we announce on our route network. But I think when we do, the enthusiasm will grow even more,” said Mr Jordan.
“The normal leisure destinations have proved the most popular in a survey we conducted. Places like the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, the Whitsundays, Cairns, Coffs Harbour, Northern Territory and down to Tasmania are high on people’s bucket lists.
“But if you’re living in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane you can access those points non-stop. But if you don’t live in those areas, you’re not serviced.
“But there is half of the country to service and we are going to aim to connect large regional centres with one another. And regional travellers should not have to connect for a three-day holiday.”
And Mr Jordan has predicted more travellers will opt to holiday a little closer to home.
“The regulations could be more understandable and comfortable and cause people less concern if they’re physically closer to home,” Mr Jordan said of domestic travel.
“It’s fantastic that international travel is on the horizon for us, however it’s going to be cumbersome, with more stress involved than historically was the case.
“There are more hurdles involved with international travel.”
The cost of Bonza flights promises to be 30 to 40 per cent lower than its competitors with tickets to go on sale during the first quarter of 2022.
Subject to gaining approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, a handful of Boeing 737s are due to take off from the second quarter of next year.
“This is about making this fare, $100 or less,” he said.
“We want to give our customers a low-cost, high-quality product for all Australians.”
Explore more: flybonza.com