Rex released a statement to the media on Tuesday declaring it is “ready to service” regional cities that have been “abandoned” by Virgin’s decision to cut routes.
General manager Warrick Lodge said the airline was “without peer in the world of regional aviation” and would “strive to provide” customers who have lost out with a Rex service “even at break-even levels” as part of its “contribution to the nation”.
Last week, rival Virgin confirmed it would stop flying to a number of regional destinations including Albury, Tamworth, Hervey Bay, Mildura and Cloncurry.
“Rex has been inundated by desperate pleas from both individuals and community leaders to step into the shoes of Virgin Australia following their announcement to exit eight regional routes,” said Lodge.
“These communities are concerned about their future as they face the prospect of being left with Qantas as the sole monopoly provider, especially at a time when their regional economies have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, bushfires and drought.
“Our heart is in the country and Rex will strive to provide these regional communities with a service even at break-even levels as part of our contribution to nation-building at this time of severe hardship.
“Rex is without peer in the world of regional aviation. When Virgin Australia withdrew from the monopoly routes of Perth-Esperance and Perth-Albany in 2016 due to heavy losses on these routes, the Western Australian government turned to Rex to pick up the pieces.”
Lodge also hailed the success of its Community Fare scheme, which provides local communities with early-bird sale seats.
“Many of these communities have heard about the innovative Community Fare scheme pioneered by Rex that has delivered significant socio-economic benefits to more than 40 regional communities throughout all states of Australia and these abandoned communities would like to receive this benefit too,” he said.
“Rex’s Community Fares deliver substantially lower ticket prices for those communities that agree to participate. This results in a boost to local tourism, businesses and leisure travel.
“Prior to COVID, Rex introduced the Community Fare scheme and more flight frequency to these routes resulting in record passenger numbers at a time when regional passenger numbers in WA were in decline. Today, these same routes have bounced back the fastest in the whole of WA.
“Rex will apply this same operational discipline to all the abandoned routes and will help nurse them back to full recovery as the pandemic subsides. While many of the affected regional cities have already reached out to Rex, we invite all affected cities to contact us.”
Last week, Virgin confirmed it was set to stop flying seven regional destinations and scrap 10 separate flight routes:
- Brisbane–Port Macquarie
- Mount Isa–Cloncurry
- Sydney–Hervey Bay
- Sydney–Port Macquarie
- Sydney–Nuku’alofa, Tonga
The attack on Virgin comes just days after the ACCC finally confirmed that Rex could share revenue and co-ordinate flight schedules with its two national rivals during the pandemic downturn.
The new arrangement, which includes flights to Mildura, Dubbo and Wagga, will run until 30 June 2021, however, the regulator noted collaboration is unlikely to occur until government subsidies wind down at the end of the year.
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