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Rex gears up for domestic launch, announces Aus Day flypast

written by Hannah Dowling | January 25, 2021

Rex new livery Boeing 737-8FE, VH-RQC msn 33797 v1
Regional Express revealed its new 737-800NG livery (@rexairlines)

Regional Express (Rex) will conduct a flypast of Sydney’s Harbour and beaches on 26 January, showing off its newly acquired 737-800NGs, as its inter-capital city network launch quickly approaches.

At approximately 10:15am on 26 January, one of Rex’s six leased Boeing 737s, sporting its newly revealed livery, is set to fly at 1500 feet over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The aircraft will then track past the Opera House from the east, before conducting a reversal turn to the west of the bridge.

The 737 is due to then make another pass over the Harbour Bridge before tracking east over the harbour to Sydney Heads, and making its run along the Northern Beaches.

Rex deputy chairman John Sharp AM said, “It’s a great honour for Rex to be taking part in our national celebrations. Rex will be bringing a little bit of country to Australia’s largest city on its biggest day.”

Meanwhile, as the carrier continues to prepare for its 1 March 2021 launch date of its inter-capital city routes, the airline has given both its aircraft and its staff a cosmetic overhaul.

The regional-turned-domestic airline has said it has redesigned its cabin crew uniforms in a style the airline has called “classic yet elegant”.


According to Rex’s national flight attendant manager, Donna Griffith, the new uniforms are intended to “contemporise” the airline’s “country hospitality” while being “fuss-free” and practical.

Last month, the airline revealed its new livery for its fleet of 737-800NGs, which will be tackling the new routes.

It’s livery fails to stray far from that which has donned its fleet of Saab 340s for decades.


From 1 March, Rex will utilise its Boeing 737s on the notoriously profitable route between Sydney and Melbourne, with intentions to expand its capital city network to include Brisbane by Easter.

Earlier this month, Sharp released a bullish newspaper column, suggesting that Qantas is secretly “distressed” by Rex’s network expansion, which will put the two in direct competition.

Sharp went so far as to liken Qantas to the Titanic, Nokia and General Motors, all deemed “too big to fail”, and suggested that Qantas had never faced a fair rival.

Since then, senior business columnist Stephen Bartholomeusz wrote for The Sydney Morning Herald that “history is not on Rex’s side” in its battle for domination over Qantas and Virgin Australia.

“History says it is exceptionally difficult to crack what might be a natural duopoly in the domestic market,” Bartholomeusz wrote. “It might even be more difficult today than it was in the past.”

If Rex is to succeed, Bartholomeusz said, it must take significant share off either, or a meaningful share off both, Qantas and Virgin.

“Neither will surrender it easily, even if a response to Rex’s entry is costly,” he wrote.

Both incumbents benefit from their size, capacity, frequent flyer programs, lounges, and their brands, which leaves Rex with a lot of catching up to do.

Comments (36)

  • Td


    Let’s do the Aussie thing and give them a go. As their motto says “our heart is in the country “. After all they do provide a service in all of the regional areas. where in the past other rivals were bought out and then service s and support for the regions was dumped. When the chips are down they are still prepared to put in some effort even if some help is occasionally needed. That’s we do in the regions.

    • Exrex


      Rex is Singaporean, they were given 120 million tax payer dollars at the start of covid due to apparently going broke and now Rex wants to disrupt the golden triangle with the introduction of a 737 service. Looks more like political hood winks.

      Rex is possibly the worst aviation company in Australia it treats is pilots like crap pays them crap and expects the world.

      Rex is full of egotistical ex Ansett dropouts who could not get jobs elsewhere
      I cannot wait to see Rex fail.

      • TD


        Exrex I understand where you are coming from and I hope like others things get better. Yes Rex is Singaporean owned as is Optus. Virgin 2 is largely American owned. Qantas is 49% hybrid owned. But they all employ hopefully 100% Aussies in Australia and yes hopefully Rex will treat crews with appropriate pay and respect in the future otherwise CASA will have to intervene as approvals to operate hi cap systems include properly rested and healthy (including mentally) crews which would not be the case if they were mistreated. The whole system goes under the microscope now not just the 737 fleet. (All soon to be verified).
        Maybe it’s actually Time to revisit the minimum awards for crew payments as they have never reflected the reality required of the real world which is why “pay is like crap” and crew have to fund professional items etc themselves. .Rex isn’t the only company that allegedly also treats crew “like crap”. It started years ago when Chief Pilots were replaced by bean counting personality lacking incommunicable managers who always expect the world and most times get it because everyone wants the company to succeed in order to keep a profession and income alive with a hope that things would improve. But the aviation crews (including engineers despatchers etc) can only do so much. If management aren’t over it then time will expose the issues very quickly.

      • Nate


        Hi Exrex….

        All you say is very true.
        I’m a great believer in ‘karma’, & Sharp & Rex will get theirs’ in the form of one huge painted white kangaroo-tailed airline, once they start muscling-in on the ‘golden triangle’.
        Sharp’s bitten off more than he can chew on this occasion, thinking the main trunk routes’ are ‘easy money’.
        The reason they’ve only leased the Boeing 737’s is so there’s a way out down the track, so they won’t be left with millions’ $ worth of unusable aircraft once they no longer have those routes’ to fly.

  • Lee


    Most people on the beach won’t know what sort of aircraft it is. “Oh look; it’s a jet.”

  • Benedict


    Still think Rex will vacate ‘golden triangle’ within a year.
    They don’t possess much to attract, eg second-hand aircraft, & the many they need to make it profitable eg FF scheme.
    Sharps’s too dumb to realise that many of the populace has been ‘turned off’ his airline since its’ behaviour in March 2020, & subsequent to that, of recent times’, his constant jibes at QANTAS, & its’ CEO Mr Alan Joyce.
    He’ll reap what he sowed.

    • Patrick


      If REX can keep the prices competitive, then maybe the general public will turn at blind eye towards all the politics. Honestly, I hope Rex does well since they’ve hired many retrenched staff from other airlines.

    • hgfh


      Benedict, the average person will not know about any of that and even the odd person that does is unlikely to care.

      Do you really think someone is going to go “oh, I won’t book with REX because their boss had a jibe at another airline boss”?

  • Ben


    Bartholomeusz is right, the past is littered with those that thought the triangle was “there for the taking”. It’s notoriously hard to crack in where the big two are (pre-COVID schedules) flying every 15mins at peak times. Names like Air Australia, OzJet, Compass (twice), and you can probably also chalk up the Tesna powered version of Ansett, and Impulse in that total as well.

    • Td


      #Ben. Yes you are onto something and Bartholomeusz is hedgin g his bets but remember the traveling population has doubled since then. All Rex has to do is get the passengers to their destinations in a timely manner. Who cares about lounges or flyer points that expire before one can use them or have to pay fringe benefits tax on. The major airports aren’t the places to hang around unless one is dripping with funds. If Rex can’t pull it off it’ll be because of a commercial Cold War or alliances to squeeze them out in the logistical scene e.g. Facilities,time slots, refueling etc. A good example being the smaller but still significant shops in a shopping center vs the large supermarket chains. Guess who gets the priority from Centre Management? Let’s hope it works out and the traveling public are the winners. Qantas and Virgin 2 won’t notice much drop and it’ll actually increase their flexibility and by Rex being there the traveling public will have more choice and flexibility. Hannah lets revisit all these comments in 12 months.

    • James


      Ben – except of course the Tesna powered Ansett never actually commenced operations. I believe you’re referring to the small portion of Ansett Australia in administration that Korda & Mentha elected to return to the sky, run by and funded by the administrators in preparation for sale to Tesna.

  • Bob


    REX can take customers and load factor from both Qantas and Virgin as long as they give good simple service, comparable fares and ensure that the aircraft are clean and serviceable REX have a reputation of on time
    departures which will be critical encouraging customers to travel with them
    If the concentrate on their own product REX can make a hole in Qantas and Virgins numbers

    • Jay


      I am surprised to read that someone is seeing it as it is. There is no reason why REX should not stay afloat. But they have to understand that there is a market leader and that REX is just a small fish.

    • Ian


      Wonder how ‘reliable’ their leased ex-Virgin B737’s will be?
      Did Rex do a ‘provenance’ check on each, & every aircraft, AND obtain information of duly done maintenance checks?
      Or did they just rush into leasing agreements to ensure they had them by 1-3-2021, so they can take on QF, & to a lesser extent, VA?
      Along with possibly millions’ of QF FF’s, I won’t be buying a ticket on them. There’s no gain whatsoever in that.

      Sharp thinks, by his latest comments, that QANTAS, & its’ CEO, Mr Alan Joyce, are ‘scared’ of his entering the market.
      What a laugh!

      • Col


        No they did not checks on the aircraft, they were a paper purchase
        As if You goose!

        • Ian


          You derogatory comment would be more taken notice of if your spelling, & grammar, were correct.
          Grade 2 English fail!

  • FlyBoi


    A fly over? I get their excitement but it’s only a 737… it’s not like some new exciting AC compared to QF doing. Fly past in the 380. Next they’ll change the paint on their ancient Saab’s and call it retro.

  • Trent


    Do Sharp/Rex really think that people have forgotten his bleating, ‘poor me’ attitude since March2020? Doubt it!
    A ‘flyover’ doesn’t cut it. Those on the ground would prefer cheap air tickets’ rather than this wasteful, silly advertisement. As if Boeing 737 hasn’t been seen in the sky before!
    Give ‘em maximum twelve months’ before he abandons ‘golden triangle’ routes.
    Rex is very good at giving up on various flight paths when not profitable. Thereby leaving people in the lurch.

  • marcus


    Nice touch amid Covid. Something to cheer people up, for those who will notice or care.

  • Damian


    Benedict 99% of the populace wouldn’t have a clue who Sharp is or what his recent jibes at Qantas were. Cheap fares that appear on an internet search is what much of the populace cares about. So long as they don’t try and take too big of a bite things should be ok…..

    • Trevor


      Hmmm…..Damian, many an airline has come unstuck, with the ‘too big, too fast’ scenario.
      In only leasing, not owning, Boeing 737 aircraft, they’ve an ‘out’ if they abandon the main trunk routes in the future.

  • I don’t believe even Rex believe their own garble. They are just testing the waters, this is shown in their leasing of B737s rather than putting their money where their mouth is. Rex has received the most Government support per staff than any other airline and it wasn’t long ago they were crying poor, how times have changed.
    The problem will be when Rex fails and big brother has to bail them out again.

    • Gordon


      Yep, & they’ve got a $175mn loan to a Singaporean company to service, for many a year.
      They’re gambling in the hope of gaining heaps $ on the ‘golden triangle’.
      Time’ll tell if they’re successful.

      • hsg


        $175M loan is peanuts compared to Qantas’s debt which as of Dec 2020 was at $5.9 Billion with a cash burn of $40Million per week.

        • Nate


          As at 31-12-2020, QANTAS had a cash RESERVE of $4.6bn, so what’s your point?
          And Rex will struggle to repay their ‘peanuts loan’, still.

  • Chris


    as he said on that movie the Castle, “tell em they’re dreaming”

  • Gary T


    Good on them for having a go. If they deliver on good customer service they’ll have it all over QF, who with the help of AJ have over the past few years have become very arrogant with a screw you attude.

    • Vannus


      Strange, but I’ve flown on QF for multi-decades’, & not once have been treated the way you have said.
      Maybe it’s all in the way I relate to their staff, in various departments’. Being courteous, & just plain good mannered, goes a long way.

  • Keef


    Everyone seems to be forgetting that REX has its own extensive regional networks that feed into Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns. This is a ready made market that they have from day one so they wont be totally dependent on cracking the so called “golden triangle” all they need to do the dots between the capitol cities if the provide return services they will have a domestic market to rival Qantas and larger than Virgins.
    SYD – BNE
    SYD -MEL
    SYD -PER

    It will take them time to build up the fleet required to serve all these destinations but there are a lot of cheap late model 737 NG airframes available and a lot of unemployed qualified Pilots, Flight Attendants and engineering staff looking for employment.
    So I say welcome REX and I do hope you expand your network.

  • Jack


    Since when has Rex had this great brand name and reputation? They have been overcharging people for flights to regional areas of Australia for years. Anytime a person living in the country wanted to get home for Christmas, Rex were there to overcharge and soak up any available government subsidies. On the matter of government subsidies, in March last year they only had “a few weeks of reserves left” and “Rex does not believe that Rex, and all other regional carriers, will be able to pull through this crisis without significant assistance”… It’s really amazing what an injection from the government of $60m+ into an airline’s balance sheet will do for how “profitable” it is…

    • Adrian P


      Linking the W. A. network form Perth to the North Queensland network utilising the Mount Isa hub would be extremely attractive to mining supply companies.

  • Warwick


    Hello Jack…..
    You’re quite correct in the disgraceful manner Rex has been gouging many $ from flyers’, especially if it was a much needed ‘last minute’, maybe compassionate required seat.
    Sharp is the pits, & people will remember the way his airline has treated them in the past.
    The company has NO business principles’, evidenced as you say, by their ‘poor me’ stunt pulled on the gullible deputy PM, McCormack, last March.
    Aussies’ have the great ability to push-back against scammers’, & this will be the downfall of Sharp, & Rex to come.

    • hdfgh


      Warwick, most people won’t remember because they didn’t know in the first place. Nor would they care. Qantas is also getting government money whilst the executives pocket big paychecks and the company enters several billion debt.
      As for the claim that aussies push back against scammers, I’ve no idea where you’re getting that from. Samsung & LG are now the biggest sellers of appliances and electronic goods in this country but on the way there, they were both caught publishing fraudulent energy efficiency claims multiple times and were also producing appliances that catch fire resulting in deaths. You may also remember in the past some Samsung phones were banned on planes at one stage as they were also catching fire. But do any Aussies care? No, they are buying Samsung and LG products in ever greater numbers. What about VW/Audi cars? They were caught scamming the emission claims on their cars, yet their sales have been booming. VW/Audi also have a large number of design flaws (twin charger engine failures,injection problems, timing chains stretching, DSG problems, CVT/Multitronic problems in Audi models etc) in several cars. But VW/Audi sales are booming in Australia despite them basically not existing here in the 1990s. Hyundai/Kia were also caught scamming the fuel economy labels on their cars yet their sales are booming too and similarly they didn’t really exist in the 1990s.

  • Craig


    Just remember Tiger no more so Rex will fill that gap

  • Paul


    Rex will cannibalise itself with this move. By offering discounted seats on the main trunk routes, they are kicking sand in the face of the country people that they have charged high fares to for many years.

    Does anyone really think that regional flyers, having paid a motza to travel to Sydney in their 36 seater, are going to be keen to save a few pennies and wait half a day for the infrequent Rex flight to Brisbane?

    • Brent


      Yes, Paul, I believe you could be correct!
      With Sharp denigrating QANTAS, & its’ CEO, at every opportunity, he’s doing a good job at turning folk against his airline. Typical ex-pollie, not knowing when to keep his big mouth shut!
      Rex would be better sticking to the regional routes, after all their motto, ‘our heart is in the country’, is paint splashed across the fuselages’ of their ‘planes. But I wonder which ‘country’ they’re meaning these days? Is it Singapore, who owns them?
      Certainly not the Outback folk, who’ve been charged highly, to fly on their prop-jets’.
      Let’s see what happens within the year of 1-3-2021 to 1-3-2022.

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