Regional Express (Rex) says it will further expand its North Queensland operations with a new crew base in Cairns, new flights to Mount Isa and the acquisition of a Townsville-based engineering firm.
The airline started its first Cape York service on Monday, with Rex flight ZL5516 taking off from Cairns at 0700 local time bound for Bamaga.
And by the time the new Cairns-Mount Isa flights – which will run four times a week with a morning departure from Cairns and an evening return from Mount Isa – begin on May 25, Rex says it will have three aircraft based in the North Queensland city.
Rex general manager for network strategy and sales Warrick Lodge said the airline was bringing back direct service between Cairns and Mount Isa in response to community demand, with the schedule designed to enable people from Cairns to spend a full day in Mt Isa before returning home.
Lodge said Rex was prepared to bring more aircraft to Cairns in 2015/16 as new opportunities came up.
“We invite the communities in the Cape region as well as elsewhere in North Queensland to contact us if they believe that they have a case for a viable air service,” Lodge said in a statement on Monday.
Meanwhile, Rex said on Monday it had purchased Townsville-based aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) company AVIEX from Queensland Airports Ltd (QAL), boosting its infrastructure support as it gradually increases operations in North Queensland.
The AVIEX facility, which was about 5,500sqm in size, could service and maintain Saab 340, ATR 42/72, Dash 8, Metroliners, KingAir 200/350 and other aircraft types operated by Rex and other airlines.
“Rex is already AVIEX’s largest customer and its acquisition by the airline will sustain its long-term operation and grow highly skilled employment opportunities at Townsville Airport,” QAL managing director Dennis Chant said in a statement.
In terms of its plans for the Cape York, Lodge said the start of its new Bamaga flight was part of Rex’s commitment to bring safe, reliable and affordable air travel to remote and regional communities in the region.
“The Rex Board has set aside a considerable budget to fulfil this commitment and we will explore all viable propositions from any community that wants to work in partnership with Rex,” Lodge said.