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Rex continues Queensland flights, hands state 7-day deal deadline

written by Adam Thorn | April 1, 2020

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.


Read Australian Aviation’s comprehensive timeline breaking down the back-and-forth negotiation. 

On Saturday, the federal government announced a $298 million bailout for regional aviation.

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

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:

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Comments (10)

  • Red Cee


    My question is, are people still flying these Outback routes since COVID 19 first appeared? Is it economical to fly them given the current situation?

  • Rod Pickin


    I think it would be fair to say that within both state and fed Govts we don’t enjoy the top shelf professionalism by them when it comes to the meaningful continued regional airline ops and their associated importance and needs. They get by when it is the big boys knocking on their doors but within the bounds of reason, Govts don’t understand and they have limited time to learn in which case one is entitled to ask, why are they involved? Having said that, Mr. Rex Aviation, let me advise you that making public deadlines upon Govts. as is widely reported, deadset, that is not the way to go. You have in your telephone contact list the names and numbers of the officials you need to speak with; give it a go! stay away from the media until you have a result then have a photo taken with the official involved, then speak with the media, not before.

  • rick


    I’m having a lot of trouble with qantas travel insurance, they are are making me jump through hoops to make a claim, has anyone had the same problem

  • Affected Pilot


    Karumba is not threatened…. EastAir Aviation ex Cairns will service Kurumba with an RPT service CS-KMB-CS

    • I Know


      No East Air is NOT offering RPT services between Cairns and YKMB.

  • Warren


    How can a foreign owned company (Singapore) be permitted to blackmail both state (Queensland) and federal government.

    • Ray Robinson


      Totally agree.
      There will have to be major changes to the foreign investment regulations.

  • Gregory Ashe


    Yes should be Ok , a further review may be required latet

  • craigy


    After thinking about REX and their ultimatums, let them stop flying. The government could use charter companies using King Air and other aircraft to meet demand and carry blood supplies/test samples. I am sure these companies would welcome the business and REX staff can get the 1500 a fortnight. REX staff can then thank Sharp for their predicament through his megaphone negotiations.

  • James


    I don’t get this. To my knowledge, the QLD government routes are subsidised, not regulated.

    Therefore, regardless of who’s on board they are earning. What’s the reason Rex are doing this to the QLD Government?

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