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Rex looks to set course for Antarctica

written by Jake Nelson | July 11, 2023

A319 at Wilkins Aerodrome © Barry Becker/Australian Antarctic Division

Rex is throwing its polar fleece hat in the ring to become the next aerial operator for the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD).

The AAD is looking to bring together its specialised aerial operations under one operator, and is seeking expanded capabilities including a large intercontinental aircraft, four intracontinental turboprops with skis, four twin-engine helicopters that can operate on land and ship, and a “significant scaling up” of Uncrewed Aerial System (UAS) capability.

Currently, the AAD sees flights operate during the summer between Hobart and Antarctica’s Wilkins Aerodrome, 70km from Casey Station, using an Airbus A319 (pictured) leased and operated by specialist aviation services provider Skytraders, which has held the contract since 2002.

According to Rex’s Antarctic project manager, Craig Martin, the program requires an operator with a “deep knowledge of aviation across a whole range of platforms as well as proven organisational excellence in operating special missions”.

“We believe there is no better Australian candidate than the Rex Group with its expertise in operating a fleet of 150 aircraft in every State, ranging from Boeing 737-800NG, Embraer E190 airliners, De Havilland Dash 8-400 turboprops, over 55 Saab 340 turboprops, one of the largest fleet of Beechcraft King Air aircraft in Australia, and the recently introduced Pilatus PC24 jets,” he said.


“We also have deep knowledge of special mission work, having carried out tactical flying for the Department of Defence for 20 years as well as specialised aeromedical services for over 12 years as the selected air ambulance operator for both the State Governments of New South Wales and Victoria, with another 10 years running on both contracts.”

Rex says it has assembled a panel of experts to guide its bid, with a tendering process expected to begin in November.

“The AAP has guided Rex’s response to the RFI and will spend the next five months preparing the optimal solution ahead of the Request for Tender expected in November this year,” the airline said in a statement.

“Rex intends to lead a consortium of industry partners that will operate some aspects of the Program that require more specialised expertise.”

The AAD has been contacted for comment.

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