Rex to begin Brisbane Boeing 737 flights in April

The regional airline wants to steal a slice of the lucrative 'golden triangle' market from Qantas and Virgin.

By David Flynn, November 6 2020
Rex to begin Brisbane Boeing 737 flights in April

Regional Express plans to follow the launch of Sydney-Melbourne flights on March 1, 2021 by adding Brisbane to the network in early April.

The move will allow the airline to quickly build its footprint on the ‘golden triangle’ between Australia’s three east coast capital cities as it seeks to take advantage of a return in domestic travel demand.

However, it will also increase the competitive stakes on these lucrative routes which will be heavily defended by Qantas and Virgin Australia.

Rex had previously slated the Queensland capital for the second half of 2021, with the airline’s Deputy Chairman John Sharp indicating to Executive Traveller earlier this year that its first six Boeing 737 jets would be dedicated to the Sydney-Melbourne route.

The airline now says that it will begin flying “to Brisbane from Easter”, which this year falls on Sunday April 4, 2021.

Discussions are already underway with Brisbane Airport about opening a Rex lounge in the domestic terminal, to complement its Sydney and Melbourne lounges.

More jets, and more cities, to follow

A fleet delivery schedule sighted by Executive Traveller shows that all six of the leased Boeing 737 jets – which were formerly flown by Virgin Australia – are set to be delivered by the end of March.

“If our services prove successful, we will inject up to 10 aircraft into the domestic market by the end of 2021,” Sharp says. “From there, we intend to develop a full domestic airline network, linking all the capital cities over time.”

Despite the bullish east coast press, Sharp says the airline will exercise caution as it looks to the future growth of both its fleet and its network.

“We'll be very careful and we will take things in stages as we see the market growing,” he tells Executive Traveller.

“It’s a bit like having a weather vane really, we'll be looking to see how the weather is, what the weather is doing, and then we’ll adjust our behaviour accordingly.”

Growing Rex’s Boeing 737 fleet

As with the first six members of Rex’s Boeing 737 fleet, additional jets will be drawn from the former Virgin Australia pool, and in a two-class configuration of eight business class and 168 economy seats.

“All we're looking at are the ex-Virgin aircraft, of which there are many and they’re VH-registered, so it’s pretty efficient way of expanding your fleet,” Sharp tells Executive Traveller.

“And there are hundreds and hundreds of these aircraft parked around the world so it's a bit of a buyer's market at the moment.”

Rex, not Cex

Despite building up a dedicated capital city network, Sharp says the airline will retain its Regional Express branding for the Boeing 737 service.

“We looked at other names” Sharp admits, “we looked at City Express but that had all sorts of connotations when you abbreviated it, so we thought that probably wasn’t very appropriate” he reflects with dry humour.

“So we’re sticking with Rex. The brand's been around 18 years, it’s well known by travellers and we have a reputation for giving passengers a very good level of service."

"We think that brand is a good brand to leverage off for the launch of new domestic airline operations."


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.

KW72 Banned
KW72 Banned

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 236

Big call by Rex to assume the supreme chairwoman of Queensland will open the border by then. 

07 Dec 2016

Total posts 37

The Queensland Premier has just flagged open borders to Victoria before Christmas (2020). That seems likely given a week of 0 cases and 0 deaths in Melbourne and regional Victoria. 

05 Nov 2014

Total posts 9

The premier has back gone back on her word about border openings many times over the past 6 months so I am not sure that Rex should be planning ahead until she stops dithering. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 462

The Chief Superintendent of Police on the Gold Coast has noted publicly this week that the Queensland border rules have changed 17 times in a little over 7 months .....

Wonder if their 737 pilot's will be from ex Virgin Australia, or will they train their own. 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1197

I believe nearly all of the REX jet fleet flight crew is ex-VA as are the cabin crew.  I'm not sure where they are doing their 737 maintenance but, once again, there are plenty of ex-VA staff available.  For simulators, I assume they will use the Ansett facility at Garden Drive near Tullamarine which is certified for 737NGs.

20 Jan 2017

Total posts 45

I have a feeling they've sourced some ex-Virgin engineers too.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 385

It will be a very interesting domestic aviation landscape post covid, which will hopefully be long gone by 2024 with most/all segments back to pre covid levels. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 323

Indeed and it would be interesting if the international partnerships (especially those outside the Oneworld alliance for QF)  stay largely as is by 2024 or whether if there would be movements by then. 

Though keep in mind REX does have separate Singaporean owners (not related to Temasek Pte Ltd).


09 May 2020

Total posts 566

While it will offer competition and influence fares, I think offering BNE-SYD is a mistake and a distraction, unless they believe there is enough traffic from their QLD govt underwritten outback network 

BNE/SYD is or was, 2nd busiest route in Australia.

07 Nov 2020

Total posts 39


BNE - SYD is not only the second busiest route in Australia it was the 12th busiest route in the world in 2019!  How could it be a mistake?


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 965

Will Covid be over by April, I think everyone thought it was over in June 2020? Even the most optimistic experts who were calling it an over reaction are now saying they changed there mind and consider we will be living with Covid for many many years. There goes Hamo for Xmas for us Sydney people.

covid is over now. Covid is just a massive over-reaction to a bad case of flu. Most people who caught it, didn't even know they had it.

07 Nov 2020

Total posts 39

Dear god...


03 May 2013

Total posts 673

What a mess domestic will be again.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 17

Is REX going to fly out of Terminal 2 in Sydney as they do now?


interesting part is the ramping up of junkstar services on the triangle.

Hardly any business types are ever going to fly junkstar for work purposes. They have a terrible reputation, whenever there's a disrupt.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 464

this is good news.i hope it extends to adelaide services for brisbane as well in due course.

26 Sep 2019

Total posts 2

Where did the funds for this come from? I thought the airlines were waiting for government assistance to keep on staff?

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Rex to begin Brisbane Boeing 737 flights in April