On Wednesday, Australian Regional Express Airlines announced that it would be leasing six Boeing 737-800s. Flights will commence on the normally heavily trafficked Melbourne – Sydney route on March 1st, 2021. If all goes according to plan, tickets will go on sale in December. Furthermore, the carrier hopes to add another four of the jets to its fleet by the end of next year.
Launching March 2021
More competition is on the horizon for the Australian domestic market. Regional Express Airlines announced on Wednesday that it had signed a letter of intent with two lessors to for the lease of six Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The Mascot-based regional airline intends to operate the planes on domestic Australian routes, which it plans to launch in 2021.
“Today I am pleased to announce that we have selected the Boeing 737-800 NG as the aircraft for our domestic jet operations. These aircraft are well received by passengers and have proven to be very suitable for operations in Australia,” Rex’s deputy chairman, John Sharp, said in a statement.
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Rex will take delivery of the first of the 737-800s on November 1st. The remaining five will join the fleet over the following four months. Their arrival will be in preparation for the launch of Rex’s branching out on the Australian domestic market, which will begin with a service on the usually very lucrative Melbourne – Sydney route on March 1st next year.
There was no mention of which lessors Rex would be taking the aircraft from, but as we have previously discussed, they could potentially come from Virgin Australia’s downsized fleet.
Rex has received $40 million it has in direct government grants. However, the money used for this investment is notably separate from the grant. The airline told us,
“It is entirely funded through an agreement with the investment firm PAG Capital.”
The government grant, on the other hand, is ring-fenced for keeping the airline afloat during the pandemic and continuing to service many of its regional routes, which are vital to local economies.
Hoping to add another four for ten in total
The carrier, which has previously operated only turboprop planes, is betting on a rebound in passenger traffic to help its new investment take off. The plan is to increase the fleet of 737s with an additional four by the end of 2021.
“Three of these aircraft will be deployed in the first phase of our launch on 1 March 2021 on the Sydney – Melbourne route, with another two aircraft beginning service before Easter. From there, Rex will continue to grow the domestic fleet in line with the return of passenger demand and hopes to see its fleet of 737-800 NGs reach ten by year end,” Mr Sharp further stated.
The airline said that preparations were progressing “very well” and that it hopes to obtain regulatory approval by December. Ticket sales are set to begin the same month. The price point with which it hopes to challenge its domestic competition is yet to be disclosed.
World’s largest Saab 340 operator
This will be the carrier’s first turbofan jets. Thus far, Rex flies the world’s largest fleet of Saab 340 aircraft. It has 44 in total, seating between 34 and 36 passengers, all of which are listed as active at the moment. With them, it operates a regional network encompassing much of South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, as well as four routes out of Perth in Western Australia.