Rex has temporarily reversed its decision to suspend Queensland passenger flights after a last-minute intervention from the state’s government – but warned it may still cancel services if a final agreement isn’t reached in seven days’ time.
Regional Express will now resume full service on Wednesday, 1 April and then run a reduced schedule from Thursday on five routes regulated by the state’s Department of Transport and Main Roads.
The change of heart comes after Rex said on Tuesday, 31 March that it would shut down most of its Queensland regular public transport routes.
However, today’s announcement came with a warning that the airline is only continuing to fly “in good faith” that a deal can be reached by 8 April. “After which the total suspension of all Rex’s services in Queensland may still proceed,” a statement to the ASX said.
The news is the latest in a flip-flop negotiation that has seen the airline criticise and praise both local, state and federal authorities in a bid to secure help. At one point, Rex even claimed it wouldn’t be able to transport coronavirus testing kits without a national bailout.
On Saturday, the federal government announced a $298 million bailout for regional aviation.
The package includes $198 million for regional airline routes to 138 communities and a further $100 million for related companies that support the industry. It’s thought the package will last for six months and see service and security charges waived and fuel excise lifted back to its 1 February level.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said, “Regional aviation has been smashed by COVID-19. It’s doing it tough.”
He said that while the $198 million will subsidise airlines, the sum will also help cover critical standing costs for safety function, regulatory compliance and minimum operational capability.
New Queensland route schedule, effective 2 April
Gulf Route – A temporary reduction from five return services per week to three, departing Monday, Thursday and Friday (excluding Karumba):
Northern 1 – A temporary reduction from two return services per week to one, departing Thursday:
Northern 2 – A temporary reduction from three return services per week to one, departing Friday:
Western 1 – A temporary reduction from two return services per week to one, departing Wednesday:
Western 2 – A temporary reduction from two return services per week to one. This is a Monday departure westbound from Brisbane to Mount Isa; and a Tuesday departure eastbound, Mount Isa to Brisbane:
Should Rex fail to reach a deal with Queensland’s government, the following services are threatened:
- Bamaga NPA
- Julia Creek
- Mount Isa
- Mornington Island
- St George
- Toowoomba (Wellcamp)