Australia’s Rex Stands Down 500 Staff As COVID Takes Off Again

Australia’s ongoing travel restrictions in response to the pandemic have caused several of its airlines to announce the standing down of many of their staff members. The latest carrier to join this club is Regional Express (Rex).

Rex Boeing 737
The reductions will remain until at least September 12th, but the airline will monitor the conditions closely and react accordingly. Photo: Getty Images

Operational and financial concerns

Earlier this week, the Mascot-based carrier shared that the lockdowns across New South Wales during Australia’s winter, along with the border closures, have massively impacted income. Therefore, the loss of business means that the airline is expecting that the statutory losses for its full 2021 financial year will be AU$18 million (US$13 million).

With Australia having some of the most stringent ongoing restrictions in place, it’s hard to navigate the situation. Notably, Rex has had to ground all of its Boeing 737 fleet. As a result of the challenges, the carrier is having to make further tough calls.

“Rex will be implementing temporary stand downs within the Company after consultation with the stakeholders. The number of such stand downs will be released at the end of the week after the consultations,” Rex shared in a statement.

“Rex will be releasing more details when it releases the audited financial reports on 31 August 2021, including its view on the outlook for aviation in Australia in the months ahead.”

Rex deputy chairman John Sharp expressed that every eligible full-time employee would receive government income support of AU$750 (US$550) a week under the country’s retaining Domestic Airline Capability Assistance scheme if they aren’t applicable for federal disaster payments. Photo: Getty Images

Industry woes

Now, Airline Ratings reports that 500 frontline employees will stand down amid the lockdowns. Staff members include engineers, airport workers, call center agents, ground staff, office workers, flight attendants, and pilots.

The company shared that it consulted with unions and staff to explain why it had to take this action. Ultimately, it is looking to protect the business and the long-term job security of its staff.

This move follows the huge announcement earlier this month that Rex’s fellow Australian airline, Qantas, is temporarily standing down 2,500 workers. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Australia has kept its international borders largely shut bar a few exceptions. There are also interstate restrictions in place. Many passengers eligible to fly have to spend 14 days quarantining in a designated hotel, with a room costing at least AU$3,000 (US$2,200).

Australia’s airlines keep having to revise their approach. Photo: Getty Images

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The struggles continue

There were glimmers of hope with domestic flights making a strong recovery and travel bubbles opening. However, these markets also suffered huge blows in recent months.

Daily virus rates remained largely consistent in Australia since the turn of the year. However, there has been an ongoing rise since the end of June.

Overall, if the Australian government’s record on restrictions is to go by, it’s going to be a difficult period ahead for its airlines as this wave continues.

Simple Flying reached out to Rex Airlines for comment on the reports. We will update the article with any further announcements from the airline.

What are your thoughts about Rex standing down 500 members of staff amid the complications of the pandemic? What do you make of the future of the Australian aviation industry? Let us know what you think of the overall situation in the comment section.