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Qantas launches 7 weekly flights on Rex route as row deepens

written by Adam Thorn | May 7, 2021
A file image of a QantasLink de Havilland Dash 8 Q300 at Tamworth. (Qantas)
A QantasLink de Havilland Dash 8 Q300 at Tamworth. (Qantas)

Qantas is set to launch seven weekly return flights on yet another exclusive Rex route as the bitter row between the airlines deepens.

The flag carrier will add Burnie–Melbourne to its network for the first time in 15 years, using its 50-seat Bombardier Q300 turboprops.

It marks another escalation in the war of words between the two airlines, which have for months been involved in a tit-for-tat argument over launching new services.

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In the last few weeks alone, Qantas’ chief executive Alan Joyce has mocked Rex’s “empty aircraft” while Rex deputy chairman John Sharp has said his rival is “technically insolvent”.

From 21 June, QantasLink will operate seven weekly return flights from Burnie to Melbourne, adding 700 seats on the route each week.

QantasLink CEO John Gissing said the news would offer travellers and the business community more choice.

“We’re promoting these new flights to millions of our frequent flyers across the country and think they’ll enjoy the benefits of our premium service, including complimentary food and drinks, baggage and lounge access before they fly out,” said Gissing.

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The row between the two airlines began in February when Rex accused Qantas of uncompetitive behaviour by launching rival services on its previously exclusive routes: Sydney—Orange, Sydney–Merimbula, Sydney–Griffith, Melbourne–Merimbula, Melbourne–Albury, Melbourne–Wagga Wagga, Melbourne–Mount Gambier, Adelaide–Mount Gambier.

Outlining his case at a Senate committee at the time, Sharp said the routes Qantas moved into are too small for them to make a profit on.

“They’re doing it because they want to swamp us, to push us out of our traditional marketplace and to hurt us financially so that in turn hurts us in our expansion into the domestic market,” he said.

Despite the argument, the flag carrier ploughed on, and Rex itself continued with its own plan to launch capital city 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.

Rex’s capital city expansion has included flights to Canberra, Gold Coast and Adelaide as well as Sydney and Melbourne.

Finally, two weeks ago, Joyce and Sharp exchanged withering newspaper columns about each other in the AFR.

“It’s a well-known fact in the industry that Rex has now chalked up another dubious honour,” wrote Joyce. “It has presided over the worst launch of a new jet airline in Australia’s aviation history, with empty aircraft and announced routes that have never been flown.”

It came after Sharp wrote that Joyce was a hypocrite for going “cap in hand” to the federal government for help.

“Qantas is now so desperate that it is willing to risk universal ridicule just to get its hands on more cash at any cost,” he wrote.

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9 Comments

  • Mike Butler

    says:

    From 1967 to 1970 I was proud to be an international flight steward with Qantas. It was often said at London Airport by young returning Aussies, that when they walked up the stairs on the Qantas Boeing 707, one could almost smell the gum leaves!

    Through the Seventies, I worked in the travel industry and still loved Qantas.

    In recent years, however, QF has ceased to be the Australian airline that we all loved. It is now just a rapacious corporation that HATES any competition (while pretending to represent Australia) and always tries to play State against State to blackmail the best deal — at the cost of the taxpayer — and also try to use its financial muscle to beat REX into the dust!

    It is time the aviation and corporate regulators took a hard look at monopolistic behaviour from this “law unto itself” and pulled them up!

    Do we, as the travelling public, want proper competition in the airline industry — or are we satisfied wth a duopoly?

  • David WW Olley

    says:

    Good onya Rex. Qantas needs to understand competition and the public needs choice. I would much rather have just Qantas and Rex and let Virgin wither on the vine (again). Both Qantas and Rex are truly “Australian Airlines” given their individual heritage and pedigree. Go Rex!

  • Trent Inglis

    says:

    Rex also went cap in hand to the government, only to pull out of routes it was receiving subsidies for. Perhaps Rex can ask its Singaporean owners for cash next time.

  • Ian Deans

    says:

    Qantas really has that old PanAm “chosen instrument” mentality.

  • Grumpy Old Fart

    says:

    Just demonstrates how incincere Qantas really is. It could not be bothered with rural and regional Australia until Rex stepped in to fill the void.

  • Grumpy Old Fart

    says:

    Just demonstrates how incincere Qantas really is. It could not be bothered with rural and regional Australia until Rex stepped in to fill the void.

  • Horatius Cocles

    says:

    Can’t wait for Qantas to obliterate rex airlines, then reduce flights to once a week before finally cancelling the route altogether because it doesn’t serve the interest of the share holders.
    Alan Joyce is a power hungry little self serving grub.
    He doesn’t care about his staff or people of Australia in general.

  • George Hart

    says:

    Good on REX. Competition is always good. Joyce is money hungry so he does not care if Qantas flight may be empty because of the loyal REX passengers over the years. Most of traditional REX routes have only room for one carrier.
    Joyce is not interested in loss of staff just move in. What happen to all the Qantas/Jetstar staff that we put off?
    Jetstar advertised for new staff for Gold Coast airport … how about Jetstar and Qantas staff before they advertise for new staff. Then Jetstar had the cheek to want $440 for medical prior to employment. It seems very unethical, as no way a medical costs $440 and the candidates are expected to pay up front. Money hungry and no consideration for the loyal workers over many years.

  • This spoilt brat, two year old tantrum behaviour between Joyce and Sharpe has just got to stop.
    Both should be sent to the ” naughty corner” and told to stay there til they grow up, given some play doh to cool their anger.
    REX I believe , should not have entered the main routes cities taking on QF/VA and JQ , and should have spent the handout money on upgrading their ageing SAAB 340s. The 340 is a terrific aeroplane for the vital rural routes they operate, and while Sharpe and Joyce slug it out, it puts at risk the REX operation.
    I bet Hrdlicka is just sitting back laughing at these two imbeciles trading insults !

    Lets send Joyce and Sharpe to St Helena, where they sent Napoleon !

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