Regional Express Holdings has posted a profit before tax of $19.2 million, despite what the airline’s chairman sees as a federal government “hell-bent on destroying regional aviation”. However, while its profit was 45 per cent down on the previous year, the airline laid claim to it retaining its position as the most profitable listed airline group in Australia.
An outspoken critic of government policy, executive chairman Lim Kim Hai said: “This would ordinarily be grounds for much jubilation but instead we at Rex are all too painfully aware that this pole position is an aberration arising from one of the most toxic environments ever to face aviation in Australia.”
Continuing his assault on what he sees as regressive policy: “Indeed for Rex, we barely had time to celebrate our 10 year anniversary and record profit in FY12, when we saw sales plunge almost immediately from 1 July 2012 after the federal government’s carbon tax was implemented, together with a whole host of policies hostile to regional aviation. Minister Albanese’s claim that the impact of the carbon tax would be little more than the cost of a cup of coffee became the understatement of the aviation year, when both businesses and households cut back on flying due to the rising costs in the economy.”
Rex ended the year with profits down 45 per cent and passenger numbers down 6.8 per cent.
Lim added: “Rex is a very efficient, formidable and operationally excellent airline. Our earnings are even more than double that of Qantas. However, there is little we can do when the federal government appears to be hell-bent on destroying regional aviation and along with it, pretty much the rest of the economy.
“Rex remains confident of Australia’s future and our board has authorised an unprecedented investment plan of $50 million in this financial year so as to place Rex in a very strong position when the economy improves.”
The company has not declared a final dividend “in light of the huge capital needs”.
Regional Express, Australia’s largest independent regional airline operating a fleet of more than 40 Saab 340 aircraft, operates 1,300 flights each week to 35 destinations throughout New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland. The Rex Group comprises Regional Express, air freight and charter operator Pel-Air Aviation and Dubbo based regional airline Air Link, as well as the pilot academy Australian Airline Pilot Academy.