Is Australia’s Rex Planning New Regional Routes To Feed Boeing 737 Flights?

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Australia’s Rex Airlines is said to be looking at expanding its regional network to better connect passengers to its new intercity Boeing 737 services. The airline has long operated turboprop services to the big east coast Australian cities from regional and remote towns in the bush. In March, Rex starts running Boeing 737s between Sydney and Melbourne, with Brisbane soon to follow. Capitalizing on this, Rex wants to feed as many passengers as it can between its jet and turboprop services.

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Is Rex Airlines looking to increase its regional network? Photo: Andrew Curran / Simple Flying

Rex wants connectivity between its turboprop and jet services

The bedrock of Rex and its fleet are 44 Saab 340 aircraft. These planes are neither young nor glamorous, but they are reliable. Rex operates 1,500 weekly flights to 59 destinations with them. Many of those flights fan out from Sydney and Melbourne, the two big hubs in Rex’s network. What’s missing is the in-house link between Sydney and Melbourne, and that’s what Rex’s new 737 services will offer.

Traditionally, if you were boarding a flight in the regional town of Mount Gambier and wanted to fly to Sydney, Rex would operate the Mount Gambier – Melbourne sector. In Melbourne, you would switch over to either Qantas, Jetstar, or Virgin Australia. From March, Rex can take you all the way.

“A fairly large number of our regional travelers already fly to Melbourne, Sydney, or Brisbane via connecting flights with other carriers,” Rex’s John Sharp said in December.

“All of those people, and many others, will soon find it much simpler, and their fares much more competitive if they book the whole way with Rex.”

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Rex will begin Boeing 737 flights between Sydney and Melbourne in March. Photo: Rex Airlines

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Rex already has a strong regional network in place

Through connecting passengers at hubs is not a novel or new idea. Most airlines do it or try to do it. Rex is in a sound position to maximize this strategy. It already flies direct to seven regional destinations out of Melbourne and 14 regional destinations out of Sydney using its Saab 340s.

Rex is also looking at operating its Boeing 737 jets to capital cities other than Sydney and Melbourne in the medium term. The airline currently has existing feeder flights into Adelaide, Brisbane, and Perth.

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According to New South Wales regional news outlet, The Port Macquarie News, Rex is looking at adding new regional destinations and extra services to existing destinations. That will build on Rex’s existing regional network and boost feeder traffic numbers.

“New routes to Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, and Tamworth, and Geraldton in WA are on the drawing board, as are extra services to Albury and Mildura on the NSW-Victorian border.”

Simple Flying approached Rex for further information. The airline declined to comment.

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Rex Airlines already has a strong regional network. Source: Rex Airlines

Is Rex about to give Qantas a whack?

Rex’s possible move into Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, and Tamworth is interesting. All three destinations are significant regional centers in New South Wales. All three airports already handle flights from QantasLink and/or Virgin Australia.

QantasLink had aggressively expanded into regional flying in 2020, often taking up routes Rex had enjoyed a monopoly on. That’s left Rex very unimpressed. In mid-December, Rex said Qantas’ new regional flights were “clearly anti-competitive and particularly unconscionable.” But if flying is a game of tennis, it looks like Rex might be lumbering up to return a few volleys.

What do you think? What is Rex up to? Post a comment and let us know.

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