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QantasLink trades frequency for bigger planes on Sydney–Armidale

written by Jake Nelson | February 29, 2024

Jake Nelson shot this QantasLink Q400, VH-QOM, in Sydney.

Qantas will cut the frequency of its services from Sydney to Armidale later this year.

Starting on 20 May, QantasLink will fly two fewer services per week to the regional NSW city, but capacity will be maintained by replacing all De Havilland Dash-8 Q300s currently serving the route with 74-seater Q400s.

QantasLink currently flies daily return between Sydney and Armidale from Monday to Friday, with three return flights on the weekend. The move will reduce the overall number of flights while increasing the availability of seats for passengers travelling at peak periods.

The airline is the only carrier currently flying the Sydney-Armidale route following Rex suspending its service in October, citing a lack of available pilots; Link Airways also connects Armidale with Brisbane.

Rex had indicated that services may resume on 31 March this year, but in February extended cuts to its regional services, until 27 October, citing supply chain issues from COVID-19.


The move prompted a war of words between Rex and Adam Marshall, Nationals member for Northern Tablelands, who accused Rex of breaking a “public commitment” to return in March.

“I’m angry but not surprised that Rex has not honoured its promise to return air services to our community and region,” said Marshall.

“Rather than offer up warm platitudes and more false hope, I’d much prefer Rex just be upfront with the community, be honest about its future here. If you’re not coming back, just say so – don’t keep jerking our chain, on a promise.”

Rex hit back, with chairman Lim Kim Hai warning Armidale would be “last in line” to see services return due to Marshall’s “antics”.

“Rex did not make any commitments to restart services. We have always been clear on the cause of the suspension of flights and that the resumption of services between Armidale and Sydney was subject to the situation improving.

“The situation has not improved and Rex has publicly announced that none of the cities affected by the 30 per cent reduction in Rex’s regional network will see their services reinstated at the end of March.”

Rex’s stoush with Marshall echoes a similar feud between the airline and Whyalla City Council last year after it pulled services to the regional SA city when the council refused to modify its airport terminal to support unscreened passengers.

The Mayor of Whyalla at the time accused the carrier of defaming his council, while Rex insisted the council had a “secret agenda” favouring QantasLink.

Rex at the time praised Armidale for its decision to convert one of its airport’s three gates for unscreened services, thus allowing Rex’s and Link Airways’ sub-40-passenger flights to continue to operate without increased costs.

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