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Rex says lockdowns have shut down 80% of its business

written by Adam Thorn | July 13, 2021

One of Rex's latest 737s, VH-REX, as shot in Melbourne YMML by Victor Pody
One of Rex’s latest 737s, VH-REX, as shot in Melbourne YMML by Victor Pody

Rex deputy chairman John Sharp has revealed lockdowns and border closures have shut down 80 per cent of the airline’s business.

In an interview with US news channel CNBC, Sharp also became the first major Australian airline chief to publicly call for the government to provide more assistance.

“If we don’t do something for airlines, there won’t be too many left at the end of this,” Sharp said.

It comes as speculation increases that aviation businesses will soon be forced to enact mass stand-downs of staff, with the news NSW’s lockdown is likely to continue for weeks. The state today recorded 89 new locally acquired cases, down slightly from 112 on Monday.

“It’s hit us really hard,” said Sharp on Tuesday. “It’s devastating to see the impact. It’s really knocked out the vast majority of our business.


“We’ll lose revenue and we’ll have people we’ll have to pay people who we can’t generate income from. We’re back to where we were at the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

“Unless government are prepared to assist business, a lot of business will close. If this NSW lockdown continues for any length of time, it’s been suggested it could be for up to six weeks, government assistance will be needed.

“Governments have to start floating people’s boats again. If governments want to keep an industry alive, they’re going to have to help us. No airline can keep paying people when you don’t generate the revenue to keep employing them.”

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine told Australian Aviation recently that businesses had so far kept workers active but the situation would “inevitably” change if restrictions rumbled on.

“People are currently working on ordinary hours,” said Kaine. “But for many in aviation, that itself is hard because they’re not getting the overtime and overnight allowances that they’ve become accustomed to.

“Clearly, casuals and part-timers will be used as a minimum, so they’re already suffering.

“But in terms of stand down, they haven’t been triggered yet. We had some pre-meetings with companies, which we are working with to attempt to avoid that.

“But it’s going to be an inevitability, particularly if the New South Wales situation doesn’t improve.”

Kaine said there are already calls in a couple of companies for staff to take unpaid leave.

“That means workers are going to be left to the vagaries of any potential social security system with no dedicated aviation payment,” he added.

Australian Aviation reported how nearly 373 flights arriving or departing from Sydney Airport on 30 June were cancelled or withdrawn from service as domestic aviation in Australia ground to a near halt.

The last time states and territories locked out NSW at Christmas due to the Northern Beaches cluster, it cost Qantas alone $400 million.

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Comments (4)

  • Mick


    Seriously Rex,
    Everyone is tired of your whining on how tough your airline is doing. You’ve already been given the largest handout from the govt. compared to other airlines, & you’re the only airline in the world that has expanded its fleet during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any wonder your 737 gig isn’t getting bums on seats… starting operations in the middle of a pandemic when state & territory borders are opening & closing almost on a monthly basis.

  • Clinton


    So now John Sharp is begging for further Australian government assistance for his Singaporean owned airline. No so long ago he go a hand out and with that purchased 737s now he want more assistance. John maybe it time to look at your directorship and operation. Expansion at this time just proves REX is not for growing Australian Aviation it more akin to lining Rexs pockets by fleecing the Australian taxpayer.

    Sell your assets and survive you beggar.

  • Phillip Martin


    Reverse the previous expansion and know your place. We have an Australian airline to look after. We do not need to keep throwing money at overseas owned airlines. Perhaps it is time for the owners to seek help from their own country.

  • Bryan


    Didn’t take Sharp long to want MORE money. He’s a real piece of work.
    As others’ above have correctly said re: the previous huge amounts handed to Rex since covid started.

    It was QANTAS CEO Mr Alan Joyce who stated that Rex got SEVEN times the amount of Fed Govt $$$$ assistance that QANTAS received.

    Sharp’s constant belittling of Mr Joyce & his Airline since March 2020 is totally beyond the pale.
    People are sick & tired of hearing his pathetic whinges non-stop.

    If he can’t properly run the business for its’ Singaporean owners’, maybe he should be told off, by them.
    There’s ‘something’ not quite right with that airline.

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