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Rex unveils ticket strategy for Sydney-Melbourne route

written by Adam Thorn | December 2, 2020
Rex new livery
Rex has finally revealed the livery that will sit on its new fleet of Boeing 737s

Rex has sensationally announced it will start selling tickets between Sydney and Melbourne from today for a 1 March launch.

The regional airline also confirmed it would initially operate nine return services a day between the two cities, with sale prices starting at $79. Economy tickets will include checked baggage, food and pre-assigned seating – indicating Rex will pursue a ‘mid-market’ hybrid strategy.

The news comes less than a week after rivals Qantas and Virgin began significantly increasing their capacity due to borders between NSW, Queensland and Victoria opening.

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Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said on Wednesday, “The first three Rex Boeing 737-800s will take off between Sydney and Melbourne on 1 March 2021.

“Rex will begin with nine Sydney-Melbourne return services a day. By Easter, two additional 737s will be added to expand our domestic network to Brisbane and other capital cities. If all things go as planned, we hope to grow our fleet to 8-10 by the end of 2021.”

The business also revealed its new livery that will be displayed on the 737s, as pictured above.

“Rex will offer all the usual perks of a full-service carrier including eight Business Class seats,” said Sharp. “All fares include checked baggage allowance, food, pre-assigned seating and online check-in. Lounge access and on-board Wi-Fi will be free for Business Class, whilst Economy passengers can access these options for a small fee.”

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Rex only last month signed off on a $150 million investment that will allow it to expand its operations to fly capital city routes with six leased Boeing 737s.

The airline will draw down an initial $50 million in January next year from PAG Asia Capital and the deal will see the APAC organisation nominate two directors to sit on the board.

“Once the initial services are well established, we aim to progressively grow our fleet to cover all the major cities in Australia,” said Rex executive chairman Lim Kim Hai.

“PAG is a well-respected and highly successful investment group which manages more than US$40 billion on behalf of major global institutional investors.

“Preparations for our domestic operations are proceeding to plan with our first Boeing 737 800NG aircraft delivered on 5 November 2020. Our crew will carry out training on the aircraft over the next three weeks before the CASA proving flight on 2 December 2020.”

Last month, Australian Aviation photographer Lenn Bayliss photographed Rex’s first 737 shortly after it had its old Virgin livery removed at Wellcamp before the regional airline took delivery of it in Sydney on 5 November.

The plane has been flying back and forth between Sydney and Melbourne, likely in preparation for its CASA proving flight on 5 December.

Rex’s timing is likely to cause alarm for rivals Virgin and Qantas, which have both been celebrating record sales as Queensland’s border opens to both Sydney and Victoria.

Yesterday, Australian Aviation revealed how Virgin was set to match Qantas and return to 60 per cent of pre-COVID domestic capacity by January.

Return frequencies by Christmas will increase to six per day between Melbourne and Brisbane; nine per day between Sydney and Brisbane; and twice daily between Newcastle and Brisbane.

In total, the airline has added a further 78,000 weekly seats between the three states by January 2021, after they finally opened to each other on Tuesday.

It comes as Qantas and Jetstar said last week its flying schedule will rebound to 60 per cent of pre-COVID levels and it would add an extra 1,200 return flights into Queensland from NSW and Victoria.

Premier Palaszczuk had repeatedly stated that she would only open her state up to areas that have recorded a month without so-called community transmission – that is cases of COVID where no source of the infection can be traced.

Those rules meant Queensland opened up to NSW on 10 July but closed to Sydney on 1 August and then to all of NSW and the ACT again a week later. Despite opening for a second time to the ACT on 25 September and NSW on 20 October, the city of Sydney was excluded.

While the borders were always open to essentials travellers, they were effectively closed for all mainstream commercial flying.

The bizarre restrictions meant those from Sydney could potentially travel to Queensland but had to first spend 14 days outside the city. Travellers could also fly from Sydney Airport but couldn’t stop anywhere in the city en route.

Premier Palaszczuk said the decision was made after “extensive conversations” between her chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young, and NSW’s counterpart.

Queensland’s Deputy Premier, Steven Miles, called the announcement “a great day for Australia”.

In October, Australian Aviation revealed that Queensland’s continued refusal to open its borders to Sydney caused the latter’s domestic passenger traffic to flatline in September after plunging 70 per cent the previous month.

In a statement to the ASX, Sydney Airport said it welcomed 98,000 passengers in September, up only slightly from 91,000 in August and down significantly from 276,000 in July.

Sydney Airport also revealed it welcomed 34,000 international passengers in September, down slightly from 39,000 in August.

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24 Comments

  • james

    says:

    CASA proving flight on 2 or54 December ? It says both above.

  • Peter

    says:

    Best news this year.
    GO Rex
    My allegiance will be with you. Look forward to being on board. You were the only carrier who gave me a cash refund, without asking for it due Covid.

  • John Phillips

    says:

    A brave plan indeed. How long before the inevitable happens?

  • Peter Briant

    says:

    All I can see, is disaster for REX 🙄😫

  • John Mowbray

    says:

    So did we get that right? The flat lining of passengers through Sydney airport was due to the decisions of the Endorsed Leader of Qld and her experienced CMO who held a strong belief in how to protect Qld from the possible widespread Covid effects of interstate tourism. Now this explains the continuous sniping by the Sydney based PM and Premier was all about revenue for Sydney rather than strict Pandemic control.

  • Nicholas

    says:

    2021 will be a very interesting year for internal Australian aviation.

    I wonder who will be standing at the end.

    Not Four carriers on the Sydney to Melbourne route anyway is my bet..

  • John Phillips

    says:

    Surely the case. And as usual, the much maligned QF will be left to pick up the pieces of the country networks.

  • Alan Flood

    says:

    nice colour scheme and I hope their service goes well

  • jeff

    says:

    The livary on the plane is terrible. Surely they could have come up with something better

  • rachel sadik

    says:

    you have to positive about Rex, I will definetely fly with them when they start operating and with that fare of $79 it is a steal. only hope they will not fly into Avalon. in melbourne

  • AgentGerko

    says:

    Good luck to Rex, they’ll need it! But offering food, baggage and seat allocation, plus lounges for Business, sounds very much like a full service carrier to me, not a hybrid. Just because your fares are lower doesn’t make you mid market or a hybrid. QF and VA regularly had fares sales and were never called hybrid. I wonder if they’ve got the nerve to join Star Alliance, so0mething VA should have but never did.

  • Warwick

    says:

    The writing on above plane photo is ‘our heart is the country’.
    If this is so, why is Rex hell-bent on flying up & down the east coast, & not to inland towns?
    Maybe they should change that writing to ‘out heart is in getting money from other airlines’.
    Don’t see them lasting long on the ‘golden triangle’, as QF has bigger & better aircraft, & that’s just for starters’.

  • Andrea Shearer

    says:

    I wish all airlines well BUT I think there is a conflict of interest that Mr Sharpe is an ex politician and Michael McCormack financially assisted Rex, which is mainly foreign owned. Yet they could not assist Virgin Australia, I am waiting to see with interest, how the ACCC are going to monitor fair and equitable behaviour of all airlines. Warwick’s comments reflect what many others have been saying for the last few months on a perception of government favouring Rex.

  • Neil

    says:

    Looks like the Return of Compass, or Impulse to me! Don’t think 3-6 aircraft are going to cut the Mustard as they say, with cheap fares. If push comes to shove Qantas and VA will always match fares.

  • Gregory

    says:

    To John Phillips, & Peter Bryant, above…..

    You’ve both hit the ‘nail on the head’!
    I totally agree with your comments. Interesting to see how far the $150mn loan from the Singaporean entity will last.
    Maybe Rex will run back to Fed Govt’s McCormack, bleat, & get more taxpayer funded dollars, like they inveigled him to do last March. Disgraceful!
    This is why I’ll never spend my money with Rex.

  • Kenneth

    says:

    Hi Adam Thorn

    As always, I love and enjoy reading your articles, as well as listening to your podcasts. Though, what I have found lately, and it’s not critic, but purely my personal observation and opinion, is that, your articles contain up to 50% “copy paste” from previous articles, so you read the same thing several times per day.
    E.g this article from “yesterday, Australian aviation revealed……….” till the end. This has all been mentioned many times all ready, and in my opinion isn’t relevant to the headline “Rex unveils ticket strategy……”.
    If you ask me, keep the articles shorter and more specific on the subject described in the headline.
    Again, it’s just my humble opinion, and I’ll keep supporting Australian Aviation and World of Aviation, and read all your articles in the future as well. If short or long 😎

    • Adam Thorn

      says:

      Thanks Kenneth!

      It’s a good point! The reason I do this really is to give some added value and ensure our articles are longer than 250-300 words (at the point in which I have run out of new information). While we get lots of regular readers who will read every day, we get many who dip in and out, which is why I do it. I also try to pick and choose only the relevant bits. Most mainstream newspapers essentially do the same, with around 50 per cent of the aviation articles being background. I usually link to the article in full, so readers can get the context.

      Hope that explains my thinking and thanks for your comment and warm words.

      Adam

      Adam

  • Grant

    says:

    @Jeff….

    Do you mean ‘livery’? Spell check not working, maybe?

  • Troy

    says:

    Yeah, right! I think in the online world this is classed as a popular, particular ‘saying’.
    The question needs to be asked ‘how many seats on EACH flight are available for $79 fare’?
    You can bet your last $ it won’t be the whole of the economy Cabin.
    Will they be available on peak time flights? Doubt it.
    They’re in it to make lots of money, as they perceive the main trunk routes’ to be ‘money spinners’. That’s why they’ve borrowed $150mn from a Singapore firm, to buy second-hand planes’.
    They’ve got one very big ‘White Roo’ competing against them, so good luck with that.
    The other airline? Well, maybe.
    Sure makes for much interest!

  • Jim

    says:

    Rex’s heart isn’t in our country! It’s heart is in Singapore. Sick to death of hearing John Sharp’s dribble. All he care about is lining LKH pockets so he can line his own. Rex is a s*** show and wouldn’t fly with them if seats were $1.

  • Anton

    says:

    We have yet to still see the livery on the Rex 737s.

  • Anton

    says:

    RE. Peter Briant. There’s no disaster for REX. There’s just more competition between Rex and Virgin.

  • James

    says:

    @Jeff…

    Do you mean ‘livery’?
    It’s very bland, I agree!

  • Al

    says:

    How so, Peter Briant?

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