Rex betters Virgin and Qantas sale as golden triangle battle begins

written by Adam Thorn | February 10, 2021
Rex new livery Boeing 737-8FE, VH-RQC msn 33797 v1
Regional Express revealed its new 737-800NG livery (@rexairlines)

The battle for the golden triangle appears to have begun after Rex launched $49 Sydney–Melbourne sale tickets days after Virgin and Qantas’ own sale charged considerably more.

On Monday, Qantas began selling the route for $109 while on 1 February fellow ‘mid-market’ carrier Virgin sold them for $78.

Rex will initially operate nine return services a day between the NSW and Victorian capitals on 1 March using an initial fleet of six leased 737s, with plans to expand its network to Brisbane by Easter.

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Wednesday’s announcement is significant because the business originally offered the tickets for $79 in December. Rex also announced it would offer business class fares from $199.

Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said, “Most taxi rides to the airport cost more than $49. This is a wonderful opportunity for travellers to get between Australia’s two biggest cities on a whim to get over the COVID blues.

“Importantly, all fares during this pandemic are covered by Rex’s COVID refund policy, which guarantees full refunds for any flights affected by COVID, even if Rex’s flights are not affected.”

Rex’s aggressive move comes days after Qantas itself trumped Virgin with a significantly more generous policy waiving the fees passengers have to pay to rebook flights.

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The new offer means those who book domestic or trans-Tasman flights before 30 April 2021 for travel up to 31 January 2022 won’t have to pay a charge to switch.

Virgin’s equivalent offer covers those who book before the 31 March 2021 for travel until 30 June 2021 – six months earlier. Australian Aviation understands Virgin is set to match Qantas’ deal later this week.

Change fees and booking flexibility has been a key battleground for airlines in the last year. In January, Rex claimed “other carriers” had criticised its COVID refund policy, which allows any passenger affected by border closures to get their money back.

This compares with offers by Virgin and Qantas that only allow refunds if the flight is cancelled by the operator, but not if restrictions change banning certain passengers from flying.

Rex first announced firm details of its golden triangle ticket strategy back in December.

“Rex will begin with nine Sydney-Melbourne return services a day,” announced Sharp. “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 eight to 10 by the end of 2021.

“Rex will offer all the usual perks of a full-service carrier including eight Business Class seats. 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.”

Its shareholder then voted “overwhelmingly” to approve the business’ $150 million investment to launch the route on 29 January.

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6 Comments

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    A new player on the airline park will always offer an introductory incentive fare, most often they will be few in numbers per flight and often at or below the operational cost of that service and of course we all know, or should, that practice cannot be sustained. I am happy to be proved wrong but, one of the three players in this game wont be around for long which will result in approx. another 250 staffers looking for a new gig. I know it is not PC but sometimes the governing bodies need to quietly step in and prevent the action before the inevitable reaction.

  • Trevor

    says:

    Keep those ticket costs up, Rex. That’ll guarantee you’ll go broke!

    Not forgetting, of course, they’ve only got TWO aircraft, so if one goes U/S, their ‘schedule’ is stuffed.
    Happy customers’ then, I think not.
    Plus all the costs to pay QANTAS &/or Virgin to carry them to their destination. $49 each person won’t be the fare charged, certainly, it’ll be the ‘fare of the day’.

    Sharp wants to play tough, let’s see how long Rex lasts in any scenario to come.

  • R.Allcock

    says:

    Well done REX, sock it to em, eat your heart out Joyce ! Next thing you will be doing is setting up a FREQUENT FLYER programme that we can all USE! Robert.

  • lydia Zambon

    says:

    Be great if Rex offered a service between Weipa and Cairns. Qantas domination prices are currently too expensive.

  • AgentGerko

    says:

    VA still beats QF as they allow unlimited free changes whilst QF only allows one.

    • Nate

      says:

      Better read the QANTAS news release again, as it said ‘unlimited free changes’. To my maths mind, ‘unlimited’ means certainly more than one!

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