QantasLink is to begin flying between Sydney and Orange from May 2020. The new route is one of several QantasLink has recently rolled out and will intensify a spat between QantasLink and Regional Express.
In a statement just released by Qantas, the airline says it will be offering up to 11 return services a week using a combination of Q200 and Q300 aircraft. Some 45,000 seats a year will be added on the route.
Orange is a large regional town of 37,000 people located approximately 250 kilometers west of Sydney. The route is served by Regional Express who offers 25 return services a week.
The rollout of new QantasLink routes continues
QantasLink has been rolling out new routes as it looks to deploy Q300 aircraft following Jetstar New Zealand exiting regional flying. The services to Orange had been rumored but until now remained unconfirmed.
QantasLink CEO John Gissing said;
“Orange is a thriving place with an increasingly diverse economy. There’s a growing demand for a premium airline to connect business and leisure travellers.
“These additional flights will make it easier for Sydney residents and domestic and international tourists to discover one of NSW’s most beautiful regions.”
The move will deepen row with Regional Express
This latest move by QantasLink will deepen a row with Regional Express. The smaller airline specializes in skinny, regional flying and is accusing Qantas of dumping capacity on select routes, making those routes unviable, and forcing Regional Express off them.
Last week, in a flurry of local publicity, Regional Express quit the Adelaide – Kangaroo Island and Sydney – Ballina routes after QantasLink started flying on them.
Last week, Regional Express said;
“It is obvious that the excessive additional capacity introduced by Qantas on these routes kills the ability for Rex to offer a sustainable alternative to the Qantas model for regional communities and increases Qantas’ market power.”
The new route adds insult to injury
QantasLink is adding insult to injury, Orange is at the core of Regional Express’ history. Regional Express was set up in 2002 when Kendall Airlines and Hazelton Airlines were both acquired and merged. Hazelton was established in the 1950s by a local businessman and based at Orange. Regional Express has been flying from the town for 50 years under one guise or another.
It’s a pretty cheeky move by QantasLink. For their part, Qantas robustly responded to Regional Express’ dumping allegations last week. A Qantas spokesperson told Simple Flying;
“Rex had a track record of throwing tantrums when things were not going according to their plan.
“We have a long history of serving regional Australia and we’ll continue to invest in communities where there’s sustainable demand for our services.”
New route a win for Orange residents
However, it is hard to argue that this is not a win for Orange residents. Whilst Regional Express could scale back frequencies, they are unlikely to abandon the route altogether. The competition will be a plus for local residents. The Orange Mayor, Reg Kidd said;
“Orange’s passenger numbers have been growing steadily in recent years as the regional economy has expanded, using the airport as a key connection. It’s fantastic that Qantas see themselves as part of this growing region.
“Qantas’ decision also confirms the investment Orange City Council has made, supported by other tiers of government, to gradually upgrade the airport.
“It’s hard to overestimate the importance of having the Qantas badge as an integral part of this airport.”
QantasLink flights to Orange start on 1 May 2020 and are bookable now. We look forward to the reaction from Regional Express.