Regional airline Rex has confirmed plans to launch flights between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane from March 2021. The airline is set to rival Qantas and Virgin Australia on such services, operating an initial fleet of five to ten narrow-body jets.
Regional Express is confident they can raise the required $30 million in order to expand their network, already advising management to “start preparations in earnest”. This is the same airline that in March claimed they would be forced to shut down without a government bailout, and therefore would not be able to transport COVID-19 testing supplies to regional areas.
Flying the golden triangle
Regional Express plans to lease five to ten jets for their domestic venture, with both Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 types on the table. Considering the current climate, experts predict that Rex could score some very attractive lease rates, possibly taking in some ex-Virgin Australia aircraft.
The new fleet will be based in either Sydney or Melbourne, servicing the so-called ‘golden triangle’ of Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane. As mentioned, Rex aims to commence these operations from 1 March 2021, “subject to fund availability and regulatory approval”.
The airline says their new capital city flights will be priced at “affordable levels” and will include baggage allowance, meals and pre-assigned seating. Additionally, Rex lounge membership is set to be available for subscription.
Rex selects a Hybrid model
Regional Express plans to implement a hybrid model for their new venture, similar to what Bain Capital is planning for Virgin Australia. This could mean the airline opts for a premium cabin rather than full business class, with European-style business where the middle seat is blocked as one possibility. Specifications for economy are yet to be determined.
Rex also mentioned they have received interest from leasers who are willing to fork out $30 million against 15 of the airlines’ 60 Saab 340 aircraft. Plans to replace their Saab fleet with ATR42 and ATR72 turboprops are also underway, with Rex signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the manufacturer to replace their aging fleet.
Summing up: my take
I am excited to see the outcome of Rex’s golden triangle venture, especially with the implementation of jets which could compete with the likes of Qantas and Virgin Australia. Competition in the Australian airline market is great news for consumers, who can expect to see lower prices and improved products should Rex become a successful player.