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Rex launches another broadside at Qantas and Virgin performance

written by Jake Nelson | January 23, 2024

A pair of Rex 737s, VH-REX and VH-RQC, at Sydney Airport. (Image: Rex)

Rex has put the boot into Qantas and Virgin, again accusing them of slot hoarding as BITRE data puts it ahead of both major carriers for on-time performance.

Last month saw 74.3 per cent of Rex services depart on time and 70.6 per cent arrive on time. In contrast, Qantas had 69.5 per cent on-time departures and 67.8 per cent on-time arrivals, with Virgin the worst of the three at 56.5 per cent on-time departures and 54 per cent on-time arrivals.

Rex also performed best on cancellations at 0.6 per cent for the month, compared to 3.7 per cent for Qantas and 7.5 per cent for Virgin.

Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said the carrier’s reliability is in “a class of its own” compared to the other major domestic airlines, saying maintaining these rates is “no mean feat” while lambasting its rivals for poor performance.

“Rex always does the right thing by its passengers, unlike both Qantas and Virgin Australia. For example, one of the main contributing factors for the shocking cancellation rates of both of them is the deliberate scheduling of flights they never intend to fly in and out of Sydney in order to squat on the slots,” he said.

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“They then simply cancel them at last minute to game the slots system, callously ignoring the pain and suffering caused to hundreds of thousands of passengers every year.

“The numbers speak for themselves.”

Rex’s on-time departures and arrivals for December were still worse than the long-term average of 82.2 per cent and 81.1 per cent respectively, though cancellations were better than the 2.2 per cent long-term average.

Accusations of slot hoarding have been levelled at the major carriers for some time, with prime take-off slots at Sydney in short supply and mostly held by Qantas and Virgin for domestic flights. Both Rex and Bonza have criticised the slot system as they seek access to the lucrative Sydney market.

A slot is a literal time slot that allows an airline to take off at a specific airport at a particular time.

Currently, an airline can hold a time slot at an airport indefinitely as long as it flies it 80 per cent of the time, allowing carriers to cancel up to a fifth and block out rivals from the best times.

The rules are necessary because two aircraft cannot simultaneously take off on the same runway.

It’s led to accusations that major carriers are effectively gaming the system to take advantage, though both Qantas and Virgin have vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

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