Regional Express secures government funding to sustain flights

Australia's largest independent airline, Regional Express, will operate 38 return flights per week thanks to a government grant.

By Chris Chamberlin , April 21 2020
Regional Express secures government funding to sustain flights

Regional Express joins Qantas and Virgin Australia in receiving funding from the Australian Government to continue operating a minimum network of domestic flights, allowing the carrier to offer 1-2 return flights each week to most destinations across its network.

The value of the grant has not been disclosed, but comes as part of the $298 million COVID-19 Regional Airline Network Support (RANS) program unveiled by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack in late March.

Read: Government rolls out $298m lifeline for regional airlines

Initial funding will cover six weeks of flying with 1-2 return services per week across most Regional Express routes, which can potentially be continued for up to six months under the RANS scheme.

Further to this, Rex has lodged an application for additional RANS funding that would enable it to resume service on a greater number of routes, and to offer as many as three return flights per week across others.

Without the current funding, “many smaller regional communities would risk not having any air services at all for at least six months,” said Regional Express Deputy Chairman John Sharp.

“All independent regional airline carriers would have collapsed in the coming days” without it, Sharp added.

Rex is also in discussions with the state governments of Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia concerning further additional flights, with these state governments having committed to extra funding for the airline, beyond that provided by the federal government.

Details of those extra state-funded flights have not yet been finalised, although here’s a list of weekly flights that will resume under federal government funding, and how Rex says that would increase if the carrier’s second grant application is also approved.

From

To

Return flights per week to resume now

Total flights to resume upon further federal funding

Sydney

Albury, Cooma, Orange, Wagga

1

2

Sydney

Bathurst/Parkes, Dubbo/Broken Hill, Grafton/Lismore, Griffith/Narrandera-Leeton, Moruya/Merimbula

2

3

Sydney

Armidale, Ballina

0

2

Melbourne

Merimbula, Mildura, Mount Gambier

1

2

Melbourne

Albury/Wagga Wagga, Burnie/King Island

2

3

Adelaide

Broken Hill, Ceduna, Kangaroo Island, Mount Gambier, Port Lincoln, Whyalla,

1

2

Adelaide

Coober Pedy, Mildura

0

2

Perth

Albany, Esperance

1

2

Perth

Carnarvon/Monkey Mia

1

3

Cairns

Bamaga, Mount Isa, Townsville

1

2

Routes indicated with a forward slash – such as Bathurst/Parkes – are operated as combined services.

Other multi-stop flights also resuming and which could increase with additional funding include:

Route name

Path

Return flights per week to resume

Total flights to resume upon further federal funding

Northern 1 Route

Townsville – Winton – Longreach

1

1

Northern 2 Route

Townsville – Hughenden – Richmond – Julia Creak – Mt Isa

1

2

Western 1 Route

Brisbane – Wellcamp – Richmond – St George – Cunnamulla – Thargomindah

1

1

Western 2 Route

Brisbane – Wellcamp – Charleville – Quilpie – Windorah – Birdsville – Bedourie – Boulia – Mt Isa

1

1

Gulf Route

Cairns – Normanton – Mornington Island – Doomadgee – Mt Isa

1

3

In total, Regional Express will resume 38 weekly return flights at first – counting one run of the multi-stop routes above as one flight – with that number doubling to 76 flights, if the federal government’s second round of funding comes through as the airline plans.

Also read: Qantas, Virgin Australia continue domestic flights with $165m government subsidy

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.


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