Australians lose control of Bonza’s new plane called Shazza

An Australian airline start-up is set to launch in October and the name of its first Boeing 737 Max could no longer be Aussie.

Bonza, the country’s only independent low-cost airline, will soon take flight with “Shazza”, the name given to its first plane, which recently landed at Sunshine Coast Airport.

Earlier this month the airline asked Australians for help choosing a nickname for the plane and, sure enough, they were inundated with suggestions.

Some have suggested “Sunny”, short for Sunshine Coast, “Purple Rippa”, “Sunny Boy”, in reference to the popular blocks of ice. There was also ‘Digger’, a nod to the strength and determination of the Australian spirit.

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“Steve” has also been suggested in memory of Sunshine Coast legend Steve Irwin.

But there could only be one winner, with Shazza receiving the most likes.

“Australians love nicknames and you gave us loads of suggestions when we asked for your help naming the plane,” read a Facebook post from Bonza on Wednesday.

“So today, we’re thrilled to announce that our newest purple beauty’s name is…Shazza!

“It doesn’t get any more Australian than that.”

No really not.

The airline’s social media was bombarded with hundreds of comments from Australians praising the moniker.

“Love it! Can’t wait to fly Shazza! Yes, let’s bring Magda Szubanski to launch!!!” one person suggested referencing actor Sharon’s character in the hit comedy Kath and Kim.

“Love. Especially since it’s my name,” wrote a woman named Sharon.

“Are we all getting a free flight, as naming rights?” asked another Sharon.

“Kazza likes the name Shazza,” wrote one Karen.

But not everyone was a fan.

“Please no, this country is already bogan enough without encouraging it!” one person wrote.

“For anyone kidding the name, I’m sure you’ll be happy to fly with them if their airfares are half of what others charge,” another added.

The name will be printed on the first Boeing 737 MAX in Bonza’s fleet, registration VH-UJT.

LOT Polish Airlines was originally going to adopt the aircraft, but it never did. Instead, the estimated three-year-old plane was delivered to Bonza last month, according to the aviation news site single flight.

Bonza will be the first low-cost carrier launched after the failure of Tiger Airways Australia, serving secondary or regional airports.

It will focus on underutilized leisure market routes that are not overly dominated by competitors, offering ultra-low airfares, without exclusive features such as frequent flyer programs and lounge access to further differentiate from other carriers.

By offering similar fares to Jetstar, Bonza’s launch may well disrupt the domestic air travel situation in the country, according to single flight.

Late last year, Bonza general manager Tim Jordan said he expected to typically charge $50 for a bare seat on a short trip like Sunshine Coast to Coffs Harbor and between $75 and $100 for longer trips like Melbourne to Sunshine Coast.

Finder travel expert Angus Kidman told news.com.au that he expects Bonza to take off later this year, he will be offering an introductory sale offering many itineraries for $99 or less for one-way tickets.

“Making less than $100 is good selling psychology,” Mr. Kidman said.

“And that could go down a lot just to get some attention with a handful of seats under $40, but I definitely don’t expect those fares to be the norm in the long run.”

Mr Kidman said he expects Qantas to launch more sales (both for itself and for Jetstar) to counter any “Bonza effect”.

“I also expect it to continue to expand into even more regional airports,” he said.

Qantas has added 52 regional routes since the start of the pandemic, with Broken Hill being the most recent addition.

“The competition is great, and I’ll definitely try some of the cheaper and more unusual Bonza routes at launch. But I’ll be fine with paying $99 more often than $19,” he said.

The new low-cost airline will offer a free hand luggage of 8kg, which is a bit more generous than rival Jetstar’s 7kg, but you’ll have to spit more for luggage and choose a seat.

“Additionally, Bonza operates a maximum of five flights a week between any pair of destinations, so it won’t appeal to business passengers wanting a quick work trip. There are also no flights to Sydney, Australia’s largest city,” Mr Kidman said.

The Sunshine Coast, a popular tourist hotspot with nearby coastal towns of Noosa and Mooloolaba, will account for 12 of Bonza’s first 25 routes while Melbourne Airport will have eight routes.