Regional Express (Rex) has confirmed it is boosting its Boeing 737-800 fleet from six to eight planes. The airline’s first Boeings landed earlier this year ahead of an expansion into jet services. Now Rex is looking to increase its 737 capacity further.
Two more Boeing 737s arrive in August
On Tuesday, Rex said it had signed a letter of intent with an unnamed lessor for two Boeing 737-800NG aircraft. The airline says it expects those planes to arrive in August, with flying to begin in September.
Rex hopes to lease a further two jets, taking its Boeing fleet to 10, by the end of the year.
“Rex invites expressions of interest from lessors for these two aircraft as well as from cities that are keen to finally put an end to the price gouging they have been subject to for too long,” says John Sharp, Rex’s Deputy Chairman.
Rex’s decision to bring in more Boeing 737s is bold. The airline is attempting to grab a share of a tightly held market when the operating environment is less than optimal. Australia’s domestic airline market is subject to constantly changing internal border closures and travel restrictions.
This week, with three of Australia’s five biggest cities in lockdown and nearly all Australian states imposing border controls, only the crazy brave would want to run an Australian airline.
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Rex’s jets stay in the air, flying reduced hours
Since March, Rex has been flying its Boeings on five Australian east coast trunk routes. With new planes arriving soon, Rex yesterday said it planned to announce new routes shortly. Rex’s existing Boeings are all former Virgin Australia planes Rex leased at bargain-basement rates.
With three of the four destinations Rex’s Boeings now fly to having entry restrictions in place, Rex is managing to keep its six jets in the sky, albeit at less than optimal flying levels. VH-PAG operated two flights on Tuesday, Melbourne (MEL) – Gold Coast (OOL) – Melbourne, and five flights on Monday. VH-RYU last flew on Sunday, flying four flights on the day between Sydney (SYD) – Melbourne – Sydney – Gold Coast – Sydney. VH-RQP also last flew on Sunday, operating a return service between Melbourne and Sydney.
VH-RQG has a slightly busier schedule, operating five flights on both Monday and Tuesday, jetting between Sydney, Melbourne, and the Gold Coast. VH-RQC last flew on Monday, when it operated four flights, including Rex’s just launched Canberra (CBR) – Melbourne route. Finally, VH-REX flew four flights on Tuesday, flying out of Melbourne to both Canberra and the Gold Coast.
Rex continues to expand
Rex does not appear to have sent a Boeing 737 to Adelaide since the weekend. With the South Australian capital presently closed off to the rest of the world, that’s not altogether unsurprising. While Rex should get some kudos for keeping its Boeing in the air when it would be easy to temporarily park some of them, it would be interesting to know the loads. Loads are a more telling indicator of success than capacity.
Amid this messy flying environment, Rex is sticking to its plans and bringing in more jets. It is an aggressive move to keep expanding when there is so much uncertainty and no immediate relief on the horizon.