ACCC lets airlines co-operate on regional routes

written by Adam Thorn | March 27, 2020

Rex has been granted permission to co-ordinate with rivals Qantas and Virgin Australia on 10 regional routes during the coronavirus crisis.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission made the decision four days after being asked, and it applies to routes listed at the bottom of this page.

Qantas appeared to be less open to the ruling, stating it was not given an opportunity to review the draft application, and believes “co-ordination between industry participants should be proposed by the government”.

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Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said, “Rex is extremely grateful to the ACCC for granting this interim authorisation in just four days. This very prompt decision, and the one taken earlier with regards to the banks, will make a critical difference for all Australians, especially those in regional and rural communities, to survive this unprecedented crisis.

“The Civil Aviation Safety Authority is another regulatory body that has stepped up to the mark and responded very quickly, granting special concessions to give all commercial air operators breathing space.

“Rex, on behalf of the entire aviation community, would like to thank these two fine institutions for their invaluable role in helping all of Australia to pull through.”

The announcement from Rex came alongside a warning that it may not be able to transport COVID-19 testing samples from regional areas to capital cities for analysis unless it receives a government bailout.

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Australia’s largest independent airline said it would announce the “shutting down of its network” on Friday if it hadn’t received “concrete proposals” of financial aid.

A file image of a Regional Express (Rex) Saab 340B (Seth Jaworski)
A file image of a Regional Express (Rex) Saab 340B (Seth Jaworski)

Sharp said, “The federal, state and local governments all need to act urgently and decisively to determine specific assistance packages so that the airlines can at least provide the bare minimum of essential air services to keep the communities running.”

The ruling applies to the following routes:

Sydney to:

  • Wagga Wagga
  • Albury
  • Armidale and Dubbo

Melbourne to:

  • Mildura

Adelaide to:

  • Port Lincoln
  • Whyalla
  • Kangaroo Island

Townsville to:

  • Mount Isa
  • Cairns

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3 Comments

  • john

    says:

    Qantaslink & VARA should start using turboprops on SYD/MEL & BNE/SYD. Would be cheaper & still have some frequency.

    BNE/MEL is a bit too far in a turbo.

    Toowoomba/SYD was operated by Dash 8’s until corona cutbacks, which must be about same distance.

    Jets are expensive is can only 1/2 fill them or less.

  • Mark

    says:

    Probably better would be to “hybernate” Qantas and just keep Qantaslink flying – the 717 are smaller and far more suited to the traffic levels required.

  • Bernhard

    says:

    Good move to coordinate- ‘let them all have some of a smaller pie’. It was arrogance and madness in my view to have planes flying almost every half hour Melb-Sydney pre-virus. Use the bigger planes for hourly or two hourly intervals-there a stack to be saved in doing that alone.

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