Qantas has accused Rex of harbouring a double standard, after the regional airline picked a fight over the flag carrier’s new return service between Sydney and Orange.
“Rex is clearly uncomfortable about facing competition and seeing their monopoly on flights to Orange coming to end,” a Qantas spokesperson told Australian Aviation on Wednesday afternoon.
The new comments come after Qantas decided to take on Rex for the popular service, which Rex then branded a “predatory” decision and “anti-competitive” behaviour.
Last week, Qantas announced that as of 20 July 2020, it would be launching return services between the NSW capital and the regional hub of Orange, a route that had previously been dominated by Rex.
The new route will be serviced by QantasLink, with three return services per week.
Rex responded by arguing that Qantas was utilising its multimillion-dollar government bailout to intentionally “weaken its competitor at this time of national crisis”.
Qantas has now hit back to the fiery claims, stating that Rex is trying to hedge an each-way bet against the Flying Kangaroo.
“Rex sees their plans to expand into domestic routes as good for competition, but when a route they have had a monopoly on for decades faces some competition they say it’s predatory behaviour.”
This refers to the announcement made by Rex in May this year, that it would be investing in larger aircraft and intending to tackle capital city domestic routes.
Further, the regional airline announced its decision to take on Qantas and Virgin on capital city routes just weeks after it had begged the government for urgent financial aid, which was shortly delivered.
Many have pointed out the irony in Rex challenging Virgin and Qantas on domestic routes amid a period of deep uncertainty over the future of Virgin Australia, throughout April and May, which could also be considered ‘predatory’.
However, others have agreed that Qantas shouldn’t be taking on smaller, less profitable routes that other airlines are already servicing to a necessary extent.
According to Qantas: “We have a long history of serving regional Australia and we’ll continue to invest in communities where there’s sustainable demand for our services.
“The local community in Orange has been extremely supportive of QantasLink bringing competition to the route, which will create more competitive airfares and stimulate more demand for people to visit the region.”