Australian Carrier Rex Airlines Undertakes Massive Regional Expansion

Chris Finney (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – Australian carrier Rex Airlines has just announced a steep increase in its services into major Australian regional centres.

The expansion comes off the back of the airlines recently proposed decision to re-vamp regional routes to improve financial performance in the post-COVID recovery phase.

Proposed expansion of eleven regional services

In its most recent announcement, Rex unveiled what it describes as a steep increase in its services to the major regional centres served by its network.

Eleven regional cities in three Australian states – New South Wales and Victoria on the east coast, and South Australia – will be seeing a 67% increase in weekday return services.

The increase in services is to commence from July 4.

The breakdown of the subject routes served from state capital cities Sydney (SYD), Melbourne (MEL) and Adelaide (ADL) respectively, is as follows:

Graphic: Rex Airlines

Whilst Rex Airlines have made the decision to cut back on 5 regional routes which it could not subsidise in the present environment. The airline has seen a strong rebound on the routes it intends to expand.

General Manager of Network Strategy, Mr. Warrick Lodge said, “Rex sees strong recovery in these regional centres and is dedicating considerable resources to meet this demand.”

“These improved schedules will see us operating more flights on our regional network than pre-COVID and mark a significant turning point for the airline as we return to profitability.”

At the time of the 5 route cutbacks in May, the airline had estimated that it would return to 100% of pre-COVID levels of activity on its regional routes at the start of the new financial year.

In the most recent announcement, Mr Lodge said, “We are confident that FY23 will see a great improvement in the financial performance of our regional operations since Rex will only operate on densely patronized regional routes where the load factors and yields will be much more favourable.”

Rex’s withdrawal from another ‘marginal’ regional route

At the same time the airline made the announcement of the increase in services on 11 routes, it also announced another cutback of 1 route; citing ‘predatory actions’ by its rival Qantaslink.

This is not the first time that Rex Airlines has accused Qantaslink of predatory behaviour, and further signals ongoing friction between the two regional carriers as they recover from the damaging pandemic lull.

Describing the circumstances of the decision to cut their Sydney – Cooma route, Mr Lodge stated:

“It pains us to have to abandon half a dozen marginal regional routes after decades of faithful service.”

“Today, we will need to add another one to the list of small regional cities suffering from the collateral damage of Qantas’ predatory actions.”

“From June 27, Rex will be withdrawing from the Sydney to Cooma route which Qantas sees fit to want to enter even though this route had only 2,000 passengers in the last 12 months.”

Ongoing turbulence for Rex

The recent moves see Rex continuing an aggressive program of route cutting on low performing routes and transferring resources to augment better performing ones.

Perhaps the demonstrable friction with its rival is a visible side-effect of the airline’s continued struggle to put itself back in the black.

Rex Airlines (RXA) is Australia’s largest independent regional and domestic airline operating a fleet of 60 Saab 340 and 6 Boeing 737-800NG aircraft to 62 destinations throughout all states in Australia.

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