Rex has announced it will launch flights between Brisbane and Sydney in December, completing the airline’s goal to service the so-called “Golden Triangle” of Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane.
From 20 December, Rex will run three services per weekday between the NSW and Queensland capitals, with two services per day on weekends.
It comes just days after the airline announced it would fly to Brisbane from Melbourne on its Boeing 737s for the first time from 17 December, making Brisbane the fifth capital city destination serviced by Rex.
The move is long-awaited after Rex first announced in May 2020 that it was gearing up to rival Qantas and Virgin to take on domestic routes between capital cities, with the airline initially eyeing off routes within the “golden triangle”.
However, the airline is yet to touch down in Brisbane after launching its very first flights between major capital cities – Sydney and Melbourne – in March this year.
Since then, Rex has expanded its capital city network to include flights between the Gold Coast and Adelaide, and Sydney and Canberra.
The news comes as Queensland prepares to reopen its state borders to fully vaccinated travellers who present a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to travel, from 17 December.
In celebration of the announcement, Rex is offering one-way fares between Brisbane and Sydney from $69 if booked before 30 November, for travel up to 30 April 2022.
“Today’s announcement yet again demonstrates our determination to grow our domestic network and provide consumers with safe, reliable and affordable air travel,” said Rex deputy chairman John Sharp.
Meanwhile, Queensland Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe welcomed the news, particularly in light of the popularity of the Sydney-Brisbane route.
“More visitors to Brisbane fly in from Sydney than any other city, making the new Rex connection good news for tourism operators and family reunions this Christmas,” Hinchliffe said.
“The new Rex capacity into Brisbane delivers more options for Sydneysiders looking forward to a Queensland holiday getaway after a tough year.
“The Palaszczuk government is committed to backing Queensland airports to rebuild flight schedules because we understand the importance of aviation to helping our state’s tourism industry to rebuild better.”
Brisbane Airport CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff said, “From the Harbour City to the River City, these new services will provide travellers with more choice and flexibility just in time for Christmas.
“Today’s announcement from Rex, in addition to the new Melbourne services, bolsters the recovery for Brisbane’s two busiest domestic routes.
“We applaud Rex for their decision to invest in Brisbane and look forward to working with them as they continue their growth.”
Meanwhile, Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert noted that reconnecting loved ones in Sydney and Brisbane is “so important as we work towards the recovery of our domestic travel industry”.
“We are excited to see Rex’s announcement that they will be commencing this service and look forward to this route returning to being one of the busiest in the world,” Culbert added.
Sharp said that Brisbane will soon become a new base for part of its Boeing 737 fleet, as the airline looks to expand further into the intrastate market in Queensland.
“Brisbane is a key gateway for Rex and will very quickly become the launch pad for further forays into the Queensland market in the months and years ahead,” Sharp said.
Throughout the pandemic, Queensland’s intrastate travel market remained robust, while other markets suffered under extended lockdowns and regional travel restrictions.
In fact, Brisbane clinched the gold medal for Australia’s busiest domestic airport in the 12 months to 30 June 2021, surpassing rivals Sydney and Melbourne for the first time.
In that time, Brisbane saw 7.31 million domestic passenger movements, according to a new report by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE), placing it slightly ahead of Sydney’s 7.26 million passengers, and Melbourne’s 5.89 million.
“We would say we’re pleased but not proud of this result,” said Jim Parashos, Brisbane Airport executive general manager – Aviation. “We’d much rather see our industry operating back under normal circumstances.”
However, Parashos added that the result “demonstrated just how well-connected Brisbane is in the intrastate market”, adding that nine of the 16 sectors featured in the BITRE report were services run within Queensland.
“Services to Hamilton Island and Proserpine were almost double what they were in the previous year, so it shows how the market shifted amid domestic border closures.”
According to the report, the Brisbane-Cairns route became the third busiest route for the year ending June 2021, up from the 11th spot in the previous year.
Brisbane-Townsville came in seventh place, up from 14th last year, while Brisbane-Mackay clinched the 11th spot, up from 20th last year.
Over the same time period, Cairns was named the busiest regional airport, seeing nearly 2.1 million passenger movements, down 30.1 per cent from the previous year, while Townsville came in at number three, with 982,000 passenger movements, down 21.6 per cent year-on-year.