Rex’s passenger numbers leapt 82 per cent for the six months to December 2021 – despite Delta and Omicron lockdowns.
The news is a result of the airline flying capital city routes with its new fleet of 737-800s and came as the business announced a $53 million loss before tax for the same period.
It comes a day after Qantas reported an underlying $1.28 billion loss before tax for its half-year figures, meaning the Flying Kangaroo has now lost more than $22 billion in revenue since the beginning of the pandemic. Virgin doesn’t report its figures as a result of no longer being listed on the ASX.
Rex’s results, unveiled by deputy chairman John Sharp in Sydney on Friday, showed the airline carried 346,000 passengers in the first half of the current financial year – up significantly from 190,000 for the same period the year prior. Both years saw similar disruption from lockdowns and border closures.
The unsurprising losses came alongside its money from government COVID grants halving from nearly $60 million to $28 million during equivalent months.
Rex was forced to stand down 500 workers, including pilots, cabin crew, engineers and customer service officers, in mid-August 2021 as Delta put most of NSW and Victoria into a months-long lockdown.
It only resumed its 737 services in late October before Omicron caused swathes of cancellations and isolations over the Christmas and New Year period.
The numbers compare poorly to the airline’s last full-year results, which showed a loss before tax of $7.2 million – though that included many months pre-COVID.
Earlier this week, Australian Aviation reported how Rex subsidiary Pel-Air has signed a new $300 million deal with Victoria to operate its air ambulance services for a further 12 years.
The agreement, which officially begins in January 2024, will see the airline supply four Beechcraft King Air aircraft, pilots and engineering support.
It also comes weeks after Pel-Air began a similar contract with NSW Air Ambulance, beating out incumbent provider the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Rex’s work in aeromedical follows on from its ambitious domestic expansion that has seen the airline lease 737s and fly capital city routes.
Last week, Rex even said it could even expand its fleet to fly up to 30 Boeing 737s over the coming five to seven years.
The news was revealed by Rex chairman Lim Kim Hai at the iconic Singapore Airshow, and nearly doubles Rex’s previous public fleet expansion goals.
“That’s a very good medium-term objective,” Lim said. “There’s a lot to be said for economies of scale.”