Regional Express is gearing up to challenge Qantas and Virgin Australia on the popular and profitable 'triangle' between Australia's three east coast capitals.
It's got the planes – a small fleet of Boeing 737s, formerly leased to Virgin – with business and economy class seating. And it's got sharp airfares to help cut its own slice out of this already-competitive market.
One thing Rex doesn't have, at least for now, is a frequent flyer program to compete against the loyalty schemes of Qantas and Virgin.
However, the airline plans to resurrect its old Rex Flyer rewards program potentially in 2022, while also refreshing its current Rex Business Flyer program aimed at businesses.
The airline used to offer a loyalty program called Rex Flyer, which operated along very simple and straight-forward lines: take nine paid flights and get one flight for free.
That may have worked for the airline's regional routes, but Rex reckons it can do better – even if it takes time to get the new Rex Flyer in place.
"We'll look at developing our own multi-faceted frequent flyer program in the future, but at this stage, we're just focusing on getting the airline up and running," Regional Express Deputy Chairman John Sharp told Executive Traveller in the lead-up to Rex's Sydney-Melbourne launch.
While the frequent flyer program was listed as a 'strategic milestone' in a mid-2020 presentation prepared by Rex for investors and sighted by Executive Traveller, it wasn't slated to debut until at least a year after the capital city flights take off, in what the airline called 'Phase Four' of its expansion beginning in March 2022.
It's been speculated that the rebooted Rex Flyer will skew towards the more conventional points-based system, with travellers earning Rex Points according to the type of ticket they buy.
Whether this would also include some form of status credits, which in turn would deliver selected perks to the airline's most frequent flyers, remains to be seen.
Sharp is willing to gamble that, in at least the short term, the lure of Rex's low fares will outweigh collecting points and status credits on Qantas or Virgin.
Rex Business Flyer
Regional Express is still offering its Business Flyer program, which is aimed at travellers who belong to a business with an ABN (and carries a $99 two-year membership fee).
The business owner and employees can attach their Rex Business Flyer membership number to a Regional Express booking.
For every sector flown under the membership number, the business receives one point.
Earning 18 points within two years sees the business given two Reward Flights: these are valid for any seat on any Rex flight within the following six months, and can be booked for anybody, not just the business owner or staff.
"When you think about it, that’s a better deal than most, because the two tickets that you get after the 18 are treated as fully-paid ticket, so there's no limit on the number of seats available," Sharp tells Executive Traveller, "and you've got full flexibility in terms of changing the time of flying or the date of flying."
Also read: The Rex Boeing 737 business class guide