HITTING the Great Ocean Road for hinterland locals just got a whole lot easier with budget airline Bonza launching the first ever direct service flight to Victoria’s Avalon Airport.
Avalon, which serves as the gateway airport to southern Victoria is just 29 minutes from Geelong and the famed Great Ocean Road, while also only 55 minutes into Melbourne’s CBD.
Bonza’s Carly Povey, said Sunshine Coast hinterland residents now have access to 17 new destinations and 27 routes.
“For Sunshine Coast Hinterland travellers, this means the opportunity to reconnect with families and friends in destinations they have not previously had access to without long drives or annoying connecting flights,” she said.
Along with accessibility for outbound travellers, the hinterland would also benefit from inbound tourism.
“Over the next 12 months, Sunshine Coast Airport estimates the region will see an additional 772,000 seats into the region, which will generate more than $86 million in visitor expenditure,” Ms Povey said.
GC&M News was invited on board the inaugural Avalon flight to experience first hand travelling with Bonza.
True to their laid back vibe and “Allstralia” branding, we boarded “Bazza” a new Boeing 737 Max at 8.55am for the two and a half hour flight.
First impressions were Bonza knows what people want with those pesky magazine compartments moved to the top of the backrests, giving your legs a bit more space to move. The headrests – often seemingly an afterthought by some airlines are actually very supportive, which is helpful for our longer flight.
Bonza only offers standard economy seats on all their flights.
There is also an adjustable head rest and tilt mechanism along with two USB ports to keep your devices charged.
Alongside the friendly service with their kind smiles and laid back positive attitude, it was nice to note the effort gone to source food and drinks from local firms. A ham and cheese croissant was supplied by the Everyday Café in Caboolture, while The Happy Snack Company based in Landsborough, provides their healthy snack, Pizza Fava Beans.
The menu offered a wide array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and snacks including wines, spirits, juice, soft drinks, coffee and tea, cheese and crackers, croissants, sandwiches and cookies.
While entertainment options were limited with no TV series or movie streaming options– an increasingly moot point given how much we have on our own devices – there was a selection of free books, podcasts and games on the Bonza browser to keep you busy.
You can also order food, drinks and check in for flights on the Bonza app.
Arriving on time in Avalon a few minutes after 1pm, travellers, who included the U14’s girls North Shore Jets team were entertained with a brass band and local food and drinks to celebrate the first flight.
Although it was a quick turnaround for, the benefits for actual tourists ready to hire a car and travel along the southern coast were evident.
Just moments from Geelong and the start of the Great Ocean Road, you easily avoid the rush of Tullamarine and are out of the terminal in minutes.
It was a great day with friendly Bonza staff, a welcome event at Avalon Airport to mark the occasion, and great facilities on board to make your flying experience enjoyable.
The reporter flew as a guest of Bonza
Main image: North Shore Jets U14’s girls team players