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Australian budget airline Bonza to start flying as soon as late September

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SYDNEY, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Australian budget airline startup Bonza said on Monday it expected to start commercial flights as soon as late September, subject to regulatory approvals, after it took delivery of its first Boeing Co 737 MAX plane.

"We are now one important step closer to connecting more Australians with convenient low cost travel options to more destinations for holidays and to visit loved ones," Bonza Chief Executive Tim Jordan said in a statement as flight AB001 neared the end of a multi-stop journey from Seattle to the airline's Sunshine Coast base in Queensland.

The new targeted start date compares with an initial plan to start flying by the end of June, but the airline is still seeking a licence from Australia's aviation regulator.

Bonza, which means "excellent" in old-fashioned Australian slang, will compete against Qantas Airways Ltd, Virgin Australia and Regional Express Holdings Ltd (Rex) in a market that lacks an independent low-cost carrier.

Bonza is backed by U.S. private investment firm 777 Partners, which has an investment portfolio that includes Canadian low-cost airline Flair Airlines.

777 Partners last month agreed to buy 30 more 737 MAX jets as it expands its low-cost airline plans.

Bonza's home base will be the Sunshine Coast airport and Melbourne airport will serve as a second base. It plans to focus on leisure-driven routes not served or under-served by rivals.

The delivery of Bonza's first plane to the Sunshine Coast on Monday came a day after Qantas low-cost arm Jetstar's first Airbus SE arrived in Melbourne.

Jetstar said it expected to receive another eight A321LRs by May 23, with all 18 on order to be delivered by mid-2024. . A further 20 A321XLR aircraft are due to arrive between 2024 and 2029, providing an even longer range of narrowbody flying. (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Daniel Wallis)