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Rex expands frequency for 11 regional services, exits Sydney-Cooma

written by Hannah Dowling | June 15, 2022

A Rex Saab 340B, VH-EKX, flying past Melbourne YMML air traffic control station (Victor Pody)
A Rex Saab 340B, VH-EKX, flying past Melbourne YMML air traffic control station (Victor Pody)

Rex Airlines has announced a “steep increase” in the number of flights it will operate across 11 regional routes, as well as the withdrawal of its Sydney to Cooma service.

From 4 July, regional Rex routes throughout NSW, Victoria, and Adelaide will see increases between 14 and 67 per cent in weekday services.

Rex General Manager of Network Strategy Warwick Lodge said, “Rex sees strong recovery in these regional centres and is dedicating considerable resources to meet this demand.

“These improved schedules will see us operating more flights on our regional network than pre-COVID, and mark a significant turning point for the airline as we return to profitability.”

Lodge said Rex is “confident” that its financial performance on regional routes will see a “great improvement” in the 2023 financial year off the back of its network reconfiguration.

Meanwhile, from 27 June, Rex will exit the Sydney to Cooma route, which was one of the eight routes that sparked a bitter battle between it and Qantas over the Flying Kangaroo entering previously Rex-exclusive routes. Qantas later abandoned its plans to fly Sydney-Cooma.

It joins a growing list of regional routes that Rex has abandoned in recent weeks, each of which Rex has blamed on Qantas’ “predatory” network expansion. Qantas has denied any wrongdoing, and the ACCC recently ended its investigation into Qantas’ anti-competitive behaviour.

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“It pains us to abandon half a dozen marginal regional routes after decades of faithful service,” Lodge said.

“From 27 June, Rex will be withdrawing from the Sydney to Cooma route, which has recorded less than 2,000 passengers in the last 12 months.”

Rex will increase the number of weekday services on Sydney to Albury and Sydney to Dubbo by 25 per cent, while Sydney to Orange, Sydney to Griffith, and Sydney to Port Macquarie will both increase by 33 per cent.

Sydney to Coffs Harbour will see the largest increase in weekday flights of 67 per cent, notably after Virgin exited the route earlier this year, while Sydney to Wagga Wagga will similarly see a 67 per cent increase.

Sydney to Broken Hill will see a 50 per cent increase, while Sydney to Merimbula will increase by 15 per cent.

Meanwhile, weekday services to Melbourne to Mildura will increase by 33 per cent, while Adelaide to Port Lincoln will see a 14 per cent increase, with an additional service every Friday.

It comes just one day after Rex announced it will begin flying from Melbourne to Devonport from August, taking on a coveted Qantas-only route.

Rex said the move is “made possible” by its earlier decision to scrap its Melbourne-Albury service – another contentious route previously served by both rival airlines.

It was at the time, the latest move in an ongoing back-and-forth battle between the two airlines over network expansion, as both airlines increasingly encroach into routes previously only serviced by its rival.

A Qantas spokesperson told Australian Aviation: “Unlike Rex we welcome competition on the routes we fly.

“Just as we have for decades, we’ll continue providing a high quality service to the people of Devonport with all-inclusive fares and lounge access for Frequent Flyers.”

It also comes just two weeks after Rex scrapped seven routes from its network, laying the blame largely on Qantas’ “predatory” behaviour in the market. The airline said these decisions will allow it to “improve” its balance sheet.

Last month, Rex announced it will withdraw all services from Bathurst, Grafton, Lismore, and Kangaroo Island on 30 June, when federal government subsidies under the Regional Aviation Network Support (RANS) program ceases. The airline will also exit from Ballina two days later, on 2 July.

The airline had previously also withdrawn from its Sydney-Canberra and Melbourne-Albury services.

“Qantas’ well-publicised predatory actions on Rex’s regional routes have meant that Rex no longer has the ability to cross-subsidise these regional routes,” Sharp said.

In retaliation, Qantas later set up a dedicated webpage to debunk what it called “false claims” made by Rex.

Qantas also pointed to the fact that the ACCC has said it will take “no further action” in an earlier investigation into Qantas’ alleged anti-competitive behaviour after Rex made a formal complaint.

“The Qantas Group has launched more than 50 new domestic and regional routes over the past two years, only 10 of which have been operated by Rex,” Qantas said.

The airline said it will continue to update the webpage “to correct further false claims from Rex”.

Comment (1)

  • Ashley

    says:

    Still won’t get their balance sheet FY21-22 into the red.

    With Sharp’s expensive airfares, not too many folk are able to fly with Rex.
    If there’s no competition on a route, they’ve no choice.

    Rex’s SIN billionaire owners’ obviously won’t pay for newer aircraft to replace the ancient Saabs, another reason for people not wanting to fly on Rex.

    Let’s see what other flight paths Sharp’s decided to exit by this year’s end……

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