Rex Airlines cuts regional flights due pilot and spares shortages

A Rex Airlines SAAB 340 taxis in.
Chris Finney (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons
Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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Australian regional carrier Rex Airlines is set to cut flight services on nine of its regional routes from next month, blaming pilot shortages and spare parts supply issues for the decision.

It is understood that the service changes will see reductions in flight frequencies across several of the targeted routes, as well as the suspension of a South Australian service operating between Mildura and the state capital of Adelaide.

Service cuts from May 1

According to the Australian national broadcaster ABC, the flight services which will see the changes from May 1 and will affect operations in four Australian states.

The move by the carrier will see services cut in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Nine route services in total will be affected.

Rex operates a regional fleet of Saab 340 twin turboprop aircraft as well as a jet fleet of 7 Boeing 737-800NG aircraft. The outlined service changes will affect the turboprop fleet only.

The ABC report Rex Airline’s National strategy general manager Warrick Lodge as saying:

“These adjustments are necessitated by the chronic shortage of airline professionals, particularly pilots and engineers, as well as the severe disruption in the supply chain of aircraft and engine parts.”

Mr Lodge went on to give an assurance that those services would be reinstated once the situation described as stabilised.


Pilot and engineer shortages

The shortages of qualified aircrew and engineering personnel remains an ongoing issue for the aviation sector as it moves further beyond the pandemic era.

Layoffs and attrition through the extended pandemic hiatus have compounded the problem, and the Australian aviation sector has similarly weathered skilled staffing problems.

Last year saw rounds of flight cancellations and delays by the national carrier Qantas and its subsidiary Jetstar, in part attributed to the human resources problem.

Similarly, other top rank Australian commercial carriers including Virgin Blue and Rex Airlines grappled with the problem.

A report by the New South Wales government in 2021 claimed that Australia would require an additional 11,000 pilots by 2038, with the demand for internationally trained pilots set to increase.

It was predicted that over 260,000 new pilots would be required over the next two decades to sustain the aviation sector in the Asia-Pacific region overall.

Supply chain issues

Similar to other industry sectors, the aviation industry is also suffering through a sustained period of supply chain issues for aircraft spare parts and components support.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand national carrier Air New Zealand last week revealed that it was being forced to ground two of its shorthaul Airbus aircraft due to a protracted supply issue with the aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.

About Rex Airlines

Rex is Australia’s largest independent regional and domestic airline operating a fleet of 61 Saab 340 and 7 Boeing 737-800NG aircraft to 56 destinations throughout all states in Australia.

In addition to the airline Rex, the Rex Group comprises wholly owned subsidiaries Pel-Air Aviation (air freight, aeromedical and charter operator), the Australian Airline Pilot Academy with campuses in Wagga Wagga and Ballarat.

It also operates a propeller maintenance organisation, Australian Aerospace Propeller Maintenance. Rex is also a 50% shareholder of National Jet Express (NJE), a premier Fly-In-Fly-Out (FIFO), charter and freight operations.

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