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WA government ‘disappointed’ in Rex reliability

written by Jake Nelson | May 26, 2023

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti has said she is “disappointed” in Rex over the reliability of service to Esperance and Carnarvon.

WA budget estimates hearings this week heard reports that service quality is impacting health care in Esperance, with Nationals MP Peter Rundle saying over a 10-day period in late February and early March, 42 out of 70 Rex flights to Esperance were either cancelled or saw delays of more than 30 minutes.

“This is having real implications. It is not just about delayed flights. It is about specialist healthcare. Doctors are signed up for a stint at Esperance Hospital for example. They turn up on a Thursday or whatever but are told, ‘Sorry, we can’t get you on until the following Friday’,” said Mr Rundle.

“It is having an effect on health care. It is having an effect on accommodation providers who had them booked in. The list goes on.”


Speaking to the ABC last month, Warrick Lodge, general manager of network strategy at Rex, said pilot attrition, supply chain issues, and skilled labour shortages were to blame for issues with the carrier’s performance in WA.

Minister Saffioti said that the Department of Transport is working with Rex and has benchmarks for on-time performance.

“We were disappointed with what happened, but we have been working really closely with all the airlines, trying to improve their reliability and reduce cancellations or late arrivals and departures. Post-COVID, most airlines have been through this,” she said.

“There are no solutions at the moment. There has been a massive increase in air travel across Australia. I saw Qantas’ profits, which came out the other day. There is also massive demand for aircraft crew, pilots and baggage handlers. Many of them were let go during the COVID shutdowns, and the airlines are all struggling to try to recover.

“There is competition for staff. It is hard to get all the appropriate staff and pilots in place. All we can do is continue to work with the airlines to try to improve their performance.”

According to Lodge, Rex’s cadet scheme is producing around 40 to 50 pilots per year, and the airline is recruiting direct entry pilots where possible, but it will be “a long process”.

“We know that it’s not up to the standards that communities have come to expect of Rex, in recent months,” he said.

“It’s not a simple fix, so I just want people to understand that Rex is working extremely hard to address these issues.”

The airline last month cut nine routes across the eastern states due to similar parts and labour shortages.

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