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Rex blames Qantas pilot poaching for service cuts

written by Adam Thorn | September 25, 2023

James Lusher shot this Rex Saab 340B, VH-KRX, in 2018

Rex has blamed Qantas’s “relentless pillaging” of its pilots for its decision to reduce the frequency of services on seven more regional routes.

The cuts will begin on 30 October and include services from Sydney to Orange, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour.

In addition, the airline said it will also outright suspend all fights between Sydney and Armidale until “at least” 30 March 2024 and withdraw from the Cairns–Bamaga route in Far North Queensland.

Qantas and Rex have been involved in a long-running dispute over network expansion, with Rex launching flights between major capital cities and Qantas flying on previously small, Rex-exclusive routes.

The Flying Kangaroo has consistently denied any wrongdoing and accused the smaller airline of being afraid of competition.


The new cuts to Rex services follow the airline reducing the frequency of nine Saab 340 turboprop services in Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Queensland in April.

Those will now continue for at least another five months, as will the suspension of flights between Adelaide and Mildura. A complete list of affected services is at the bottom of this page.

“Unlike other carriers, we prefer to reduce the scheduled services so that our passengers can be assured of fewer disruptions and more reliable services,” Rex’s general manager of network strategy, Warrick Lodge, said.

“We intend to return to the standard flight schedules from 31 March 2024 – however, this is subject to the situation improving.”

Rex is one of many carriers globally that has struggled with both a shortage of staff and aircraft parts caused by COVID-19 restrictions.

Across the industry, shortages combined with school holiday getaways saw the worst delays on record in April, June and July last year.

The news comes a week after the airline said it plans to use planes from its FIFO subsidiary, National Jet Express (NJE), to alleviate delays in its regional services.

In a letter to the editor published in Western Australian newspapers, the carrier said it is “truly sorry” for recent disruptions in the state and said it is continuing to “explore all options” to reduce inconvenience to passengers.

“We have drawn up plans to mobilise the resources of National Jet Express, a joint venture acquisition late last year, so that the latter’s aircraft could be used whenever possible if Rex aircraft or pilots are unavailable,” the airline wrote.

“This plan will be implemented as soon as approval is granted by the Department of Transport.

“We also intend to tap into the operations centre of NJE to co-ordinate communications with passengers during disruptions.”

Frequency reductions, effective from 30 October:

  • Sydney–Albury.
  • Sydney–Coffs Harbour.
  • Sydney–Griffith.
  • Sydney–Narrandera.
  • Sydney–Orange.
  • Sydney–Parkes.
  • Sydney–Port Macquarie.

Rex will temporarily suspend services between Sydney and Armidale until at least 30 March 2024 and withdraw from the Cairns-Bamaga route in Far North Queensland.

April-announced frequency reductions now set to continue for another five months:

  • Cairns–Bamaga.
  • Sydney–Broken Hill.
  • Broken Hill–Adelaide.
  • Sydney–Wagga Wagga.
  • Melbourne–Wagga Wagga.
  • Mount Gambier–Melbourne.
  • Whyalla–Adelaide.
  • Port Lincoln–Adelaide.
  • Ceduna–Adelaide.

The suspension of flights flights between Adelaide and Mildura will also continue for another five months.

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Comment (1)

  • While potentially a heretic comment in the eyes of airline management but the laws of the market, demand and supply economics may hold an answer here.

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