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Qantas like an elephant squashing other airlines, says Rex chief

written by Jake Nelson | September 4, 2023

Victor Pody shot these Qantas and Rex 737-800s at Melbourne Airport.

Rex deputy chairman John Sharp has labelled Qantas a “bully” towards smaller airlines in the wake of several recent hits to the Flying Kangaroo’s reputation.

In an interview with ABC Radio National, Sharp also questioned whether outgoing CEO Alan Joyce deserved his potential $24 million final pay packet.

“Rex’s relationship with a company like Qantas is a bit like an ant dancing with an elephant. You’ve only got to make one misstep, and you’re squashed,” he said, pointing out Qantas’s control of roughly 65 per cent of the domestic market when combined with its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar.

Sharp accused Qantas of throwing its weight around to compete with Rex in destinations like Broken Hill, Mt Gambier, Whyalla and Kangaroo Island, not to make money for itself but to starve Rex out.

“Rex has come in to go from just being a regional airline operator to a domestic operator, and the minute we announced we were doing that, Qantas did what Qantas is famous for doing within our industry,” he said.


“[Qantas] decided to go and compete with us in some of our marginal regional routes, knowing that they would lose money doing it but we would lose money too, and they can afford to lose more money than we can because they’re a much bigger company.

“They’ve moved into a number of routes in order to try and punish us for going into the domestic airline business to try and undermine our finances so that we’re weak and therefore can’t compete.”

Sharp told the ABC he believed the upcoming case filed against Qantas by the ACCC would reveal an “enormous amount of … anti-competitive behaviour”.

“I think it’s time that these things were revealed and people could actually see what goes on because this all happens in the background, people don’t get to see it,” he said.

“All they see is the services that come and go from airports, but there’s a lot of stuff goes on behind the scenes and Qantas plays the game very ruthlessly, they play it to win, and they’re a giant, they can be a bully and they are a bully.”

The Flying Kangaroo on Monday admitted its reputation “had already been hit hard on several fronts” by recent events, including the ACCC’s allegations it was selling tickets to flights it had already cancelled.

“We want the community to know that we hear and understand their disappointment. We know that the only way to fix it is by delivering consistently. We know it will take time to repair. And we are absolutely determined to do that,” the airline said.

Sharp has been involved in a longstanding war of words with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce over the Flying Kangaroo’s decision to launch services on previously Rex-exclusive regional routes. He once said of Joyce that he doesn’t know how he can “look at himself in the mirror some mornings”.

However, he also admitted to Australian Aviation last year that he’s had “tremendous fun” making comments towards rival airlines, arguing he is simply defending his airline that is a “featherweight in the heavyweight section” battling to “stay in the ring”.

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