LKO · Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport

LKO · Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport
  • PublishedMay 4, 2024

About 302 Bonza employees have been stood down without pay, with administrators confirming that the troubled airline’s fleet will remain grounded until at least next Tuesday.  

The budget carrier suspended all flights across the country and entered voluntary administration earlier this week.

In a statement, external administrators Hall Chadwick confirmed the airline was issued event of default notices by leasing company AIP Capital on April 17, nearly two weeks before the aircraft leases were terminated.

The statement said Bonza’s directors advised the action taken “was not foreshadowed or expected”.

Hall Chadwick said there was “no alternative” but to stand down the majority of staff and confirmed there was insufficient cashflow to recommence full operations at this stage.

“The administrators appreciate this is not the news that the employees, customers and other key stakeholders would like to hear, however there is no alternative course of action available,” the statement said.

‘Screaming and crying’

Bonza employees joined a virtual staff meeting with Bonza CEO Tim Jordan and a representative from Hall Chadwick on Thursday night and were told they would not be paid the wages owed to them for the month of April.

A Bonza plane sits on the tarmac behind a wire fence.
Administrators have confirmed Bonza’s fleet will remain grounded until at least Tuesday.(ABC News: Kirra Grimes)

One source told the ABC that employees were “screaming and crying” as they received the news.

“They [Bonza and administrators] said they can’t do anything — they are not in a position to pay anyone,” the source said. 

“I would have thought staff would get paid, even half. They get nothing. Zero.

“They’ve put petrol in their car and driven to work five days a week. Rent is due and they’ve got no money.”

The source said administrators advised the employees to seek emergency payments from the government.

In a joint statement released on Friday, Bonza and Hall Chadwick said the administrators had opened an enquiry line for workers, and were “in discussions with government and other key bodies in regards to assistance for employees”.

Staff queue at Centrelink

One staff member told the ABC that several Bonza employees were queuing at Centrelink on Friday morning and that many were “in tears”.  

“It’s just extraordinarily hard for everybody,” the employee said.

“Hundreds of us haven’t been paid today and we need to find work, but we can’t find full-time work because we’re not allowed — we won’t be able to get our benefits if we get full-time work.

“So, we will have to find casual part-time work, which is going to be quite difficult.”

People board plane on tarmac
Budget carrier Bonza entered voluntary administration earlier this week.(Josh Dye, ABC Sunshine Coast)

The staff say they are still in the dark about whether they will have jobs to return to.

“We are just waiting for news,” the employee said. 

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) director of organising, Josh Millroy, said the treatment of Bonza staff was “completely unacceptable”.

“We find advice they’re being told to apply to Centrelink is deeply distressing,” Mr Millroy said.

“Centrelink is not enough to support a family — it’s probably not even enough to support one person.

“These workers and their entitlements must be prioritised.”

The Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia (FAAA) is also providing guidance to the airline’s staff.

“They’re the ones helping us [figure out] what to do next and what our rights are,” the Bonza employee said.

Hall Chadwick said meetings with all stakeholders are ongoing as it endeavours to find “the best possible solution”.

SOURCE: ABCNEWS

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