Monday is shaping up as a big day for Australia’s Regional Express (Rex). The airline is resuming Boeing 737 operations and adding a new destination to its network. It is a welcome return to business for an airline hit hard this year by lockdowns and ongoing travel restrictions.
Rex begins flying its 737s again
After suspending its Boeing operations in July, improving travel demand and easing border restrictions have encouraged Rex to restart its 737 flights. The first 737 flight in four months, ZL009 pushed back from Sydney Airport at 07:10 on Monday for the 70-minute flight down to Melbourne.
Flights to Canberra will also resume on Monday. Over the next few weeks, Rex’s fleet of six Boeing 737s will recommence flights to Adelaide and the Gold Coast. On Monday, the airline announced it would also add Brisbane to its list of 737 destinations.
Double daily Melbourne-Brisbane-Melbourne flights will start on Friday, December 17. It adds a vital route to Rex’s golden triangle ambitions.
“We’ve always said we wanted that we wanted to operate the triangle,” Rex’s Deputy Chairman John Sharp told the Future Flying Forum last week. “Sydney – Melbourne is the second busiest airline route in the world, and then Melbourne to Brisbane, Sydney to Brisbane – we’ve always said we wanted to do that.”
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Rex eyes Queensland for 737 expansion
Earlier this year, Rex eschewed Brisbane in favor of the Gold Coast. Reportedly, Rex and Brisbane Airport could not come to terms over landing costs. Now, it seems the Queensland Government has stepped in to smooth the way with some assistance.
“The (Queensland) Palaszczuk Government continues to support Queensland airports to rebuild flight schedules because we understand the importance of aviation to the State’s tourism industry,” said Queensland Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe on Monday.
At the Future Flying Forum, John Sharp touched on Rex’s 737 ambitions in Queensland. As new jets come into the fleet, Rex is looking at new routes and Queensland is on the radar. Rex’s Deputy Chairman said Queensland’s re-opening opens up opportunities.
“We expect to expand on our domestic network to other key destinations along the Queensland coast,” he said. Today, Mr Sharp confirmed a 737-800 would be based in Brisbane and the airlines was well advanced with plans to begin flying to major Queensland regional centers and tourist destinations.
“We have no intention of stopping our growth as we’re determined to make up for time lost due
to the pandemic and push ahead with plans to expand our network, particularly in Queensland,” he said.
Expect some keen fares on the Melbourne – Brisbane corridor
Brisbane Airport welcomed the extra business, its CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff saying he looked forward to “supporting these new services and building on the strong partnership that’s already developed between BAC and Rex Airlines.”
Rex will take on Jetstar, Qantas, and Virgin Australia flying on Australia’s third busiest flight corridor. In 2019, the last year of uninterrupted flying, 25,420 flights carried 3,608,500 passengers in either direction between Melbourne and Brisbane.
Rex is offering introductory fares of AU$79 in the main cabin and AU$299 in business class on the sector. They are pretty keen fares that Jetstar and Virgin Australia will likely match. Qantas, as usual, will probably fly above the competitive fray, preferring to pitch their fares higher than their local rivals.