The first of six Boeing 737-8 aircraft that used to belong to Australian low-cost carrier Bonza has been repossessed by the company’s former lessors. 

The jet has been flown out of the US, to an undisclosed final location via Honolulu. 

Bonza’s fleet of planes were emblems of the regional airline’s deeply Australian identity, all bearing names chosen by the Australian public. First came “Shazza”, followed swiftly by “Bazza”, “Sheila”, “Malc”, “Matilda”, and the recently departed (and presumably renamed) “Bruce”. 

Even the planes’ purple livery was designed with “Australia’s much loved jacaranda trees” in mind. 

But the brand identity wasn’t strong enough to secure the airline’s future, and financial struggles led to the company’s dramatic collapse and hundreds of stranded passengers. 

AIP Capital cancelled the aircraft lease agreements to Bonza on 29 April, after Hall Chadwick was appointed as external administrator to Bonza. 

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The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported at least 300 Bonza staff have been laid off with immediate effect and told not to expect the pay they are owed for April. 

Hall Chadwick said it attempted to hold on to the planes in Australia, but AIP rejected the proposal. 

“The administrators have regretfully been advised that the lessors will continue to enforce their rights under the termination notices and, subject to their own requirements and arrangements, seek to reposition the fleet elsewhere,” its statement said.

The first plane (“Bruce”) departed from Sunshine Coast Airport (MCY) in Queensland. 

“With respect to this particular aircraft the Company previously had a leasing arrangement for Bruce from a Canadian Company‚ to which the aircraft was registered.

“This lease expired in February 2024 and the Company has not had a lease for this aircraft since that date. As such the Company did not have a lease in place in respect of ‘Bruce’ at the date of the Administrators appointment,” Hall Chadwick said.

Air Vanuatu follows Bonza

Meanwhile, Ernst & Young has confirmed it has been appointed by the Government of Vanuatu to “review available options” for Air Vanuatu. 

The national airline of the Pacific island nation had been struggling for months with financial and mechanical problems. 

Flights from Brisbane and Auckland were cancelled at late notice, reportedly blamed on “aircraft maintenance issues”. 

But a statement a few hours later from the international accountancy firm threw the future of the small airline into doubt. 

“The Vanuatu government is now considering placing Air Vanuatu, the national carrier of Vanuatu, into voluntary administration. The international firm Ernst & Young has been appointed to assist the Vanuatu government in reviewing available options and put forward recommendations to the Vanuatu government,” it said.