Bonza cancels flights: Which airlines are Aussies most likely to use and recommend in the aftermath?

Samuel TanAPAC Data Journalist / B2B Content Manager
May 14, 2024, 1:00 PM GMT+0

Low-cost carrier Bonza Aviation recently entered voluntary administration, after it abruptly cancelled all its flights, leaving passengers stranded at airports in the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Avalon.

Shortly after, Virgin Australia and Qantas (along with its low-cost arm Jetstar) offered to fly affected passengers to their destinations at no additional cost where seats are available.

But to what extent has consumer perception towards major low-cost and full-service airlines in Australia changed in the immediate aftermath of Bonza’s sudden grounding?

Latest data from YouGov BrandIndex suggests that most consumers are aware about the suspension of Bonza’s services. The Queensland-based carrier’s Buzz score (which measures whether consumers have heard more positive or negative things about a brand in the past two weeks) plunged around 16 points from 4.2 on Apr 1 to -12.1 by May 8 – entering negative territory a day after it suspended services on Apr 30, indicating that consumers heard more negative than positive things about the airline.

Except for Scoot (the low-cost arm of Singapore Airlines) – which also inched downwards from 0.9 on Apr 1 to -0.1 by May 8 – other major airlines operating in Australia either saw improvements or largely maintained their buzz scores over the same period.

Jetstar and Qantas, which had negative buzz scores at the start of April, saw the largest jumps of 6.6 points (-2.4 on Apr 1 to 4.2 on May 8) and 5.6 points (-0.6 on Apr 1 to 5.0 on May 8) respectively, while Virgin Australia and AirAsia saw slight increases of 1.7 (12.7 on Apr 1 to 14.4 on May 8) and 1.0 (0.1 on Apr 1 to 2.1 on May 8) respectively.

Bonza’s Recommendation score (which tracks how likely consumers are to recommend or advise others to avoid a brand) took a similar dive, from 3.2 on Apr 1 to -7.9 by May 8, while Scoot and AirAsia saw their scores dip by 1.5 and 0.6 points over the same period.

In contrast, the number of Aussies who would recommend Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin have grown. Jetstar saw the largest improvement of 7.2 points, from 5.1 on Apr 1 to 2.1 by May 8. But Virgin Australia which saw a smaller improvement of 2.6 points, from 26 on Apr 1 to 28.6 by May 8, remains by far the most recommended carrier of the list.

However, when Aussies were asked about the airlines they would personally consider flying with on their next trip, Scoot remains the least favoured airline on the list (4.6% on May 8) – since the start of April through Bonza’s suspension just before May – followed by Bonza (6.5% on May 8). Both low-cost carriers also saw their Consideration scores dip over the period.

On the other hand, consideration for Qantas saw the largest improvement of 7.7 percentage points over the period – from 29.5% on Apr 1 to 37.2% by May 8 – and leads the other carriers on this list as of early May. Virgin Australia, previously the most considered of the pack in early April, is now in second place (34.8%), followed by Jetstar (24.8%).

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Methodology: YouGov BrandIndex collects data on thousands of brands every day. Buzz scores are based on the following question: “Over the past two weeks, which of the following travel and leisure brands have you heard something positive/negative about (whether in the news, through advertising, or talking to family and friends)?” (Net score). Recommendation scores are based on the following question: “Which of the following travel and leisure brands would you recommend to a friend or colleague / tell a friend or colleague to avoid?” (Net score). Consideration scores are based on the following question: "When you are next in the market to purchase travel and leisure products, from which of the following would you consider buying?" (% yes). Figures are based on a 2-week moving average. Learn more about BrandIndex.

Cover image by Mitchul Hope