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First Rex service lands in Sydney as battle for Golden Triangle begins

written by Adam Thorn | March 1, 2021

Rex first’s 737 in its new livery, VH-RQC, lands in Sydney in December 2020 (@rexairlines)

Rex fired the starting gun on a new battle for the golden triangle on Monday morning when it operated its first service between the NSW and Victorian capitals.

The Boeing 737-8FE, VH-RQC msn 33797, departed Melbourne at 7:21am as flight ZL18 and arrived in Sydney at 8:25am. There will be further flights at 5pm (Mel—Syd) and 10:30am and 7:30pm (Syd—Mel).

Australian Aviation’s Victor Pody was on the first flight, and we’ll be publishing more information later.

Melbourne Airport chief of aviation, Lorie Argus, said Rex had “seized a golden opportunity at the right time”.

“We’re delighted to see Rex move into the major city market, it means lower fares for travellers and even more choice and flexibility for Melburnians wanting to travel on their favourite route,” said Argus.


“Rex has served the nation’s regional air needs for almost 20 years and its latest expansion provides even greater connectivity at a time when more people are seeking interstate adventures.”

Tickets for early Rex flights between Sydney and Melbourne went on sale from just $49, with economy including checked baggage, food and pre-assigned seating – indicating Rex will pursue a ‘mid-market’ hybrid strategy.

The expansion is being financed by a $150 million investment from PAG Asia Capital, which was only signed off by shareholders in January. The pair first revealed they were in advanced negotiations in September 2020, after Rex announced its capital city ambitions in May 2020.

To mark the landmark flight, Rex also surprisingly announced today it will expand its 737 capital city network to operate twice-daily services to both Adelaide and the Gold Coast in a month’s time.

The regional carrier will commence services between Melbourne and Adelaide from 31 March, and then from the Victoria and NSW capitals to the Gold Coast on 29 March and 1 April, respectively.

The developments come a week after the business and Qantas became involved in an extraordinary public slanging match over routes.

Rex said it was axing five regional routes because of the flag carrier’s “predatory” move to compete with it on eight separate services. Qantas responded by saying Rex was having a “tantrum” and argued it only operated on one of the discontinued routes.

“Rex’s idea of competition is that it’s something that happens to other people, because they believe they have an enshrined right to be the only carrier on some regional routes,” Qantas said.

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Comments (7)

  • Nate


    Sharp’s only got 3 planes at the moment. The others’ are stuck in JKT for an interesting reason.
    Bet he hopes none of these here, go U/S, thereby putting his scheduling up the creek, & leading to VERY angry, disgruntled customers’.
    Still think he won’t last long on these main trunk routes.

  • Stewart


    Rex isn’t learning the mistakes’ of now gone airlines, which expanded too fast, & too big.

    This, amongst other errors’, will be Rex’s downfall.
    Also Sharp’s arrogance, & hypocrisy, will help that enormously.

  • Bernard Beston


    Since Virgins resurrection and REX’s announcement, Qantas have again been responding to their loyal Customers.
    This follows a 12 months hiatus of keeping money for 8 months for no service; raising prices; closing contact systems; arrogant management; sacking the competent staff etc etc.
    Of course lost bags will become the norm under the ne contract arrangements. Qantas couldn’t get that right under their staffing arrangement
    Now there is competition they never expected, it is amazing how they are actually communicating again. One recent email even admitted “our mistake!”
    Whilst Virgin is under it’s current CEO – No way!
    But REX – definitely will get my bum on their seats!

    • Nate


      Oh boy! With your poor, & incorrect attitude towards QANTAS, on a few levels, Rex is welcome to your a$$!

  • Kim


    Great news for Adelaideans and I only hope that REX is well supported and thrives.

  • Ben


    Rex – enters triangle saying its an opportunity and competition is good for consumers.
    Also Rex – complains bitterly about competition because QantasLink starts operating on some routes previously monopoly Rex.

    Let’s not forget that Rex whilst citing QF competion has pulled out of routes NOT served by QF! I’m baffled how its Joyce’s fault that Sharp has axed underperforming routes. (I assume they are underperforming, because why else would you axe a monopoly route?) As usual Rex wants to have its cake and eat it too.

    • Brett


      People are sick of his bs bluster, so too, his constant carping against QF, which means he knows he’s got problems on main trunk routes.
      Where’re all the other ex-Virgin B737’s he’s supposed to have by now? Maybe he’s run out of money to pay for more aircraft leases!
      Why can’t he say when flights SYDBNESYD are going to start operating?
      Doubt he’ll last until Xmas, on ‘golden triangle’, which isn’t at mo, due no full circle including BNE!

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