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.