Qantas ramps up regional flights for Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide

With overseas travel off the cards for months to come, Qantas says there'll be an increased appetite for domestic trips.

By David Flynn, December 18 2020
Qantas ramps up regional flights for Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide

Qantas will add seven new routes and two new destinations to its domestic network from early 2021.

The bulk of the routes, to be flown by the airline's QantasLink arm, spear out from Melbourne, although Sydney and Adelaide also pick up one new service each.

  • Sydney-Griffith: daily flights from February 1
  • Melbourne-Newcastle: 12 flights per week from February 1
  • Melbourne-Merimbula: four flights per week from February 1
  • Melbourne-Mount Gambier: five flights per week from March 28
  • Melbourne-Wagga Wagga: four flights per week from March 28
  • Melbourne-Albury: four flights per week from March 28
  • Adelaide-Mount Gambier: five flights per week from March 28

Most flights will feature the 50-seat Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 turboprop, with lead-in fares starting from $125 one-way.

Several existing Qantas regional services are also set for an upgrade.

Sydney-Orange will jump from three flights per week to daily from February, with Melbourne-Gold Coast flights going twice-daily from April with a new schedule to cater for both business and leisure travellers.

Seasonal routes such as Perth-Hobart, Canberra-Hobart and Brisbane-Port Macquarie will be promoted to operate on a year-round basis.

The nimble Q300 turboprop will pick up most of the new routes.
The nimble Q300 turboprop will pick up most of the new routes.

Home-grown travel boom

The airline says its regional ramp-up is intended to both tap into and spike demand for domestic travel, especially as international flying is expected to remain largely off the agenda until the second half of 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We know there is significant pent-up demand for travel" says QantasLink CEO John Gissing.

"These new flights will help more Australians explore some of the incredible places in their own backyard and drive tourism, which is so vital to the local economies of regional areas.”

“Before COVID, more than 11 million Australians travelled overseas each year, so these flights will help convert some of these international trips into domestic holidays instead,” Gissing added.

Rex responds

However, rival Regional Express has described Qantas' move as "an opportunistic strategy of flooding the regional airline market with additional excess capacity to eliminate weaker regional competitors, which will have devastating long term impacts for regional aviation."

Qantas was attempting "to weaken Rex by attacking its profitable regional operations even at the cost of heavy losses for itself," the airline said in a statement issued overnight.

It called for the Federal Government "to cease all grants to Qantas if it persists with this opportunistic behaviour."

Rex itself received a total of $62 million in government support to June 30, and as previously reported will begin directly competing with Qantas on the Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane market from March 2021, with opening fares pitched at $79 for economy and $299 for business class.

Read more: Rex challenges Qantas, Virgin with $79 Sydney-Melbourne flights and Rex Boeing 737 business class guide


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


22 Jan 2013

Total posts 92

The comment by Rex is spot on. A strategic attempt to weeken Rex and get them off the g-triangle. 

Well Rex wanted to compete against Qantas on the triangle, what did it think would happen? If the airline didn't expect Qantas would in part respond by launching more regional flights then Rex needs to go back to Business School. Or does Rex want competition only on its own terms? Besides, Rex has continually said how its capital city expansion plans are fully funded to the tune of $150 million by overseas investors so it's not as if losing some regional passengers to Qantas will impact the capital city flights.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 391

Rex can't complain about Qantas adding regional flights and offering low launch fares when Rex is launching capital city flights and offering low launch fares.

And it's not as if Qantas adding these flights won't actually increase the total number of travellers on these routes and to these destinations, especially the way Qantas can and will promote the routes. People will want to do more domestic travel in the future, even when some international routes return they will feel safer at home for a while to come, so Qantas is actually going to grow the regional market. Rex won't suddenly lose all its customers to Qantas because a lot of the Qantas passengers will be people who would not have flown to those destinations before.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

28 Jun 2019

Total posts 77

As Rex has poignantly pointed out, competition is great for the consumer and fares between the capital cities on QF are generally the highest of the pack. So I was pleased to support Rex and snag a few trips on Rex from Melbourne to Sydney next autumn. Surely Rex can't be jilted now if I decide to visit Mount Gambier now that Qantas has made that route more affordable.

Also, as noted, adding a competitor to the market - together with int'l travel restrictions - will grow the market. Case in point: I wouldn't have three trips to Sydney planned next year on Rex if not for both.

Finally: Qantas has opted not to match Rex's fares on MEL - SYD, so there was no temptation to take advantage of Rex's entrance into the market to still fly my preferred carrier. That said, nothing is stopping Rex from matching QF on some of the regional routes. But if you're going to start using words like "flood" or "dump", then you should probably be taking that up in court as a matter of unfair competition practices rather than the media. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2015

Total posts 120

It’s a typical “Rex” tactic they do it to everyone... ask the city of Dubbo what they are like

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 363

Rex throw their toys anytime they don't get their own way. Agree with the comments above re: ok for Rex to launch bargain fares on the golden triangle routes but act like a toddler when the same is done to them on their home garden. You can't have it both ways, Rex.


24 Apr 2017

Total posts 73

and Qantas will dump these flights as soon as its making international ones, and leave the regions devastated with little to no flights at all if Rex is affected by his predatory behavior by Qantas.

I think the recovery for international flights will be very slow, and even as they start to come back there'll be a lot of people who won't want to fly to some overseas countries. I can't see people rushing back to the USA or Europe this time next year for holidays. Hong Kong will have lost a lot of its appeal too. Also the economic impact of COVID means a lot of families will have less to spend on those big US or European holidays. I think you will see a lot more Australians choosing to spend their holiday within Australia, especially families, so I wouldn't be surprised if these new regional routes remain for quite some time to come.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1435

I note that Link which serves the even smaller routes that Rex and Qantas doesn’t cover, offers a Canberra Hobart flight on the smaller Saab, which surprise surprise is a route that Qantas has just ‘discovered’ for the first time and as being good enough for a 717, and is even talking about it being all year round (probably not with a 717 and only as long as Link is doing the route!!) I won’t be surprised if they do Canberra Newcastle for the same reason, to squeeze any competition no matter how tiny.

look out Qantas. Rex will kill you on costs & Qantas can't afford a price war on g-triangle.

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 120

David - the plane in the Q300 photo is actually a -200. Subtle differences, but thought you might like to know for article accuracy.  Cheers.


09 May 2020

Total posts 541

Might help REx to speed up their plans for lounge facilities and lounge membership reboot 

13 Apr 2017

Total posts 6

It's a bit rich of Rex to complain about more capacity being added to Mount Gambier. 

A couple of years back, when residents and local politicians complained about reliability, they threw a tantrum and basically said "because you said mean things about us, you can have less service." 

In any case, pending another tantrum, Rex will no doubt continue to run multiple flights daily, while Qantas are running once each way five days a week. Hardly flooding that market with capacity. 

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