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Rex ups FIFO flights after Qantas–Alliance deal ends

written by Adam Thorn | October 23, 2023

A render of a National Jet Express (NJE) Dash 8-400NG. (Image: NJE)

Rex has announced it will significantly expand its FIFO network in Queensland – days after Qantas revealed it would terminate its deal to buy state rival Alliance.

Subsidiary National Jet Express (NJE) said the new services were a result of it winning “several new contracts” and would launch by the end of next month.

It comes after Rex itself formally acquired FIFO airline Cobham for $48 million in September last year and immediately began increasing its fleet to challenge Alliance.

The new flights, announced on Monday, are:

  • New twice weekly charter flights Cairns-Townsville-Moranbah as well as an additional weekly Brisbane-Moranbah flight for existing client BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA);
  • New weekly charter flights between Brisbane and Emerald and Moranbah;
  • New weekly charter flights between Brisbane and Rockhampton.

Rex said the services will use its “modern and fuel-efficient” Dash 8-400NGs.


“As foreshadowed in Rex’s media releases of 17 May 2023 and 29 August 2023, NJE intends to be the first port of call for resource companies that seek premium, reliable air services in modern aircraft with a greatly reduced carbon footprint,” said Chris Hine, NJE’s managing director.

“These new contracts, so soon after our launch in Queensland in July this year, clearly demonstrate that we are on the right trajectory to achieve our objective.”

The news comes days after Qantas and Alliance formally walked away from a planned acquisition.

In a joint statement, the two airlines acknowledged there was “no reasonable path forward” for the deal after it was opposed by the ACCC, though Qantas will still own a 20 per cent stake in Alliance. The agreement that sees Alliance fly up to 30 E190s for Qantas will also continue.

“Both companies believe the acquisition would have created customer value without lessening competition in the highly competitive resources sector – particularly through the efficiencies created through a combined fleet of F100 aircraft,” the statement read.

“Qantas will continue to serve the growing resources sector through its existing charter operations; it currently has around 27 per cent of the total charter market.”

According to John Gissing, Qantas Group executive of associated airlines and services, Qantas will be exercising an option for four additional E-Jets under its agreement, which will bring the total number of E190s operated by Alliance on Qantas’ behalf to 26. The planes are expected to enter the Qantas fleet by April next year.

“Alliance is an important partner for the Qantas Group, and the E190s have helped us open new routes across Australia,” said Gissing.

“These four new aircraft will provide additional capacity and connectivity in the domestic market.”

The competition watchdog finally opposed the Qantas takeover of Alliance in April after four delays, with ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb saying it would likely substantially lessen competition and threaten higher prices and reduced service quality.

“Qantas and Alliance currently strongly compete with each other in markets where there are few effective alternatives. The proposed acquisition would combine two of the largest suppliers of charter services in Western Australia and Queensland,” she said.

“Flying workers in the resource industry to and from their worksites is an essential service for this important part of the Australian economy, so it is critical that competition in this market is protected.”


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