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Game on! Virgin takes Rex’s bait and matches $39 deal in hours

written by Adam Thorn | May 3, 2021
A Virgin Australia 737 8FE departing YMML at sunset by Victor Pody

Virgin Australia raced to match Rex’s $39 Sydney–Melbourne deal hours after the regional carrier publicly taunted them to do so.

Rex made the initial announcement at 5am and bullishly predicted there would be “copycat moves” from its larger rivals.

Then, at 11:30am, Virgin rose to the challenge to exactly mimic the deal, which both carriers claim is a first for a non-budget airline.

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It marks the latest twist in the sales wars between airlines rebuilding their networks, which previously saw Virgin rush to match Rex’s $49 offer in similar fashion in February.

Rex’s deputy chairman John Sharp said on Monday morning that his initiative would “singlehandedly revive a moribund travel and hospitality industry in the two cities”.

“Since our entry into the domestic market, the cosy duopoly has been completely disrupted and the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE) has noted a significant reduction in average airfares in all the domestic routes that Rex covers,” he said.

“This is why Rex is good for Australia and why Australia needs Rex. For the first time ever Australians can have premium reliable domestic air services at honest prices delivered with our trademark country hospitality.”

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Sharp also accused its rivals of “disingenuous delaying tactics” in providing COVID refunds and said other airlines “simply do not have the cash” to put money back in customers’ bank accounts.

Virgin said its response was “just one example of how irresistible it is to fly with Virgin Australia”.

On 10 February, Virgin matched Rex’s $49 Sydney–Melbourne offer within hours. Rex’s launch price for the route was $79 in December.

The so-called ‘golden triangle’ between the NSW, Victoria and Queensland capitals is known as one of the most lucrative domestic routes in the world.

Last month, Australian Aviation reported how Rex took delivery of a sixth 737 allow it to continue to expand its new capital city network, which now flights between Canberra and Sydney, the Gold Coast and Adelaide as well as Sydney and Melbourne.

Rex also confirmed it was still planning to take delivery of two more aircraft in July and could grow its fleet beyond eight by the end of 2021.

The business signed off on a $150 million investment in November last year to allow it to expand its operations to fly major domestic routes.

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10 Comments

  • Stu Bee

    says:

    Its the Australian aviation industries version of the movie “Highlander”!

    There can only be one!… and Qantas

    • IAN

      says:

      Stu Bee

      Qantas is in trouble & can’t compete due to Qantas’s higher costs & unions.

    • John Phillips

      says:

      And Jetstar now selling fares on that route $30-00.

  • The behavior of Rex is such that they still won’t get any traction on flying the Golden Triangle. All these antics are doing is taking the focus off the fact the Rex regional fleet is 30 year old+ and geriatric and even with the potential $150m funds injection for 48% of the company there are still no firm orders for the ATR replacement aircraft.
    This is all smoke and mirrors so the original Singaporean shareholders can exit with dignity before they have to fund up to $800 million for new regional aircraft.
    What is at stake is the stability of services to regional Australia.

  • John Delamotte

    says:

    Not quite correct virgin has one flight at $39 Syd Meld on the 13 May and one week later 2 flights at $39 Melb Syd where as Rex has every flight at $39.
    The article should read Rex every flight $39 Virgin maybe one or two at $39 each day

    • James

      says:

      No John.

      What that means is the Virgin $39 fares are selling faster…

  • Nicholas

    says:

    Madness by Virgin.
    Why chase down after an airline with almost no planes and dreadful frequency….
    They must grow money on trees at Virgin!

  • Arthur B.

    says:

    A short time ago there was a story on this page titled “The propellers are falling of Rex’s aircraft…” or similar because of the rivalry between Qantas and Rex’s new emergence into the Domestic Market… Blatantly I add that if it were true at least Rex has not crashed a plane or lost any passengers or crews lives like Qantas has.
    Qantas was not founded in the 1950’s when the jet era started, Qantas was founded in 1921 and since then Qantas has crashed over a 124 aircraft and totally destroyed approx 60 aircraft with a lost of 39 Crews lives and 66 passengers lives, so when are people going to face facts that Qantas may not be the safest airline that the producers of the movie ‘RAINMAN’ would have you believe with the infamous quote by Dustin Hoffman in the movie, “… like Qantas, never had an accident, never lost a life…”
    The full details are listed in 3 books written by John Gunn published by the University of Queensland Press :-
    The Defeat of Distance Qantas 1919-1939 by John Gunn
    Challenging Horizons Qantas 1939- 1954 by John Gunn
    High Corridors Qantas 1954-1970 by John Gunn
    So when will people start to believe in the facts

    • Vannus

      says:

      QANTAS was founded in 1920.

      You neglected to mention, to suit your narrative, that several of those crashes, & loss of life was during WWII.

      Most flyers’ are more interested in the ‘modern era’ of jet flight, as that is pertinent to currency.

  • Nate

    says:

    Where’s Sharp getting two more jets by July, & further ones’ by Dec, 2021?
    Maybe he’ll have to ‘ferry’ them from USA, or Europe. That’s a cost he won’t be happy about.
    Watch his airfares rise exponentially if he’s having to do this.
    He’s all bluster. He still hasn’t said why he’s not flying to/fro BNE.

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