Rex is blaming parts and labour shortages for its decision to cut back on numerous regional routes across four states.
From 1 May, nine routes served by Saab 340 turboprop aircraft in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland will see reduced services, with four more routes to have timings changed, and the Mildura-Adelaide service to be suspended altogether.
“These adjustments are necessitated by the chronic shortage of airline professionals, particularly pilots and engineers, as well as the severe disruption in the supply chain of aircraft and engine parts,” said Rex’s General Manager of Network Strategy, Warrick Lodge.
“We do understand the impact these adjustments would have on the regional communities affected as Rex is the lifeline for these communities. We pledge that we will reinstate the services once the situation has stabilised.”
The routes affected include:
- Sydney-Broken Hill
- Broken Hill-Adelaide
- Sydney-Wagga Wagga
- Melbourne-Wagga Wagga
- Mount Gambier-Melbourne
- Port Lincoln-Adelaide
The shortages of regional pilots and engineers have become a well-known issue, with the Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) last month joining a new alliance to push for more attention on the issue.
“It’s no use hoping people will just move to the regions – we need better housing, education, health care, and of course, air services for vital connectivity,” said RAAA CEO Steven Campbell, who hopes to see these critical skills shortages in regional aviation alleviated.
Campbell has pointed to a report from the US Regional Airlines Association on regional pilot shortages, which showed 324 regional American airports have lost a third of their service on average, with more than 50 losing over half of their air service and 14 losing air service entirely.
“This is just around the corner for us here in Australia, which is being exacerbated by a critical shortage in aircraft maintenance engineers,” he said.
“We can’t just expect people to move to the regions, so I am pleased that the private sector is doing its bit to push this agenda to the top of the priority list for the current government.”
Campbell last year appeared as a guest on the Australian Aviation podcast to discuss causes and potential solutions to the engineer shortage.