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Travelers stranded as Australian airline cancels all flights

By Lilit Marcus, CNN

(CNN) — Around Australia, travelers are stranded and trying to get home after low-cost airline Bonza unexpectedly announced it has “temporarily suspended services.”

The airline, Australia’s newest, had a fleet of six planes, all painted a bright purple color and given Aussie-inspired names like Sheila and Matilda.

According to a report in CNN affiliate 9News, Bonza is now in severe financial trouble.

In a statement made on April 30, Bonza CEO Tim Jordan reportedly said that “discussions are currently underway regarding the ongoing viability of the business.”

“We apologize to our customers who are impacted by this,” he added.

Catherine King, Australia’s transportation minister, told reporters Tuesday that she had spoken with representatives from Bonza and urged them to keep passengers fully informed.

“We have made it very clear to Bonza that our expectations are that they inform passengers about what their options are, what changes are being made, and that they respect their consumer rights, of which they do have some,” King said.

“Our focus right at the moment is to assist Australian passengers who are stranded at the end of school holidays.”

Bonza launched with much fanfare in January 2023, using the slogan “Here for Allstralia.” It specialized in flying to smaller, under-served destinations like Launceston in Tasmania and Gladstone in Queensland.

While that was a boon for residents of those areas, it has proven an additional challenge among those now struggling to get back home following Tuesday’s flight cancellations.

Qantas, Australia’s largest air carrier, services only six of the 36 routes that Bonza has been flying. The airline said that any affected Bonza passenger can get a free ticket on a Qantas or Jetstar flight where seats are available, and has encouraged affected customers to call their hotline for help.

Virgin Australia has also stepped into the breach.

“We will immediately support any passengers stranded mid-journey by offering complimentary seats on Virgin Australia-operated flights to the airport nearest to their final planned Bonza destination,” the airline wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Bonza’s last Instagram post went up on April 28.

Currently, the company’s website is still online, but it’s not possible to book flights and all travel dates appear blacked out.

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