Rex says its Boeing 737s won’t fly until at least October 31

Regional Express will keep its inter-city Boeing 737 jet services grounded for at least another month.

By David Flynn, September 27 2021
Rex says its Boeing 737s won’t fly until at least October 31

Regional Express will now keep its inter-city Boeing 737 flights grounded until at least October 31, 2021, more than 12 weeks since the nascent jet network was formally suspended on July 21.

The airline will also extend the reduced schedule for its regional flights due to ongoing lockdowns and travel restrictions across several states including NSW and Victoria.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today said that people from the greater Sydney area would be able to freely travel to regional NSW only once the state hits 80% of full vaccination, "and we envisage that to be by the end of October."

In a statement issued through the ASX, Rex said owing to "the need for lead time for advanced ticket sales, the airline was "left with no option but to extend the suspension of its domestic services and reduction of regional services up until 31 October 2021."

In related news, Qantas today announced it would restart regular flights between NSW and Victoria from November 5, one month earlier than the previously-slated December 5 timeline, based on Victoria's latest state reopening plan.

PREVIOUS [July 21, 2021] Rex has suspended all Boeing 737 flights with immediate effect, while also reducing the frequency of its regional flights, as city lockdowns and state border closures continue to hammer air travel.

The airline's entire Boeing 737 fleet is now grounded, along with its nascent network of flights linking Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, the Gold Coast and Adelaide.

Regional services will remain in place to keep those communities connected, but see reductions in frequency, in some cases with only a handful of flights per week.

"Domestic and Regional routes on Rex's network in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania will be either temporarily suspended or greatly reduced until the end of the State Government imposed border closures and/or lockdowns," the airline said in a media statement issues this evening.

Refunds available

The airline has reassured passengers that it will continue to offer a refund within days of their claim, in accordance with the Rex COVID Refund Guarantee outlined on the Rex home page.

This includes bookings made through a travel agent as well as directly with Regional Express via its website.

"Rex's COVID Refund Portal ensures that our passengers receive their money in the bank within 2-3 days of making an eligible refund request through our automated portal," said Rex Deputy Chairman John Sharp.

"This gives our passengers the complete peace of mind to make their flight bookings without worry of any snap lockdowns and subsequent loss of money."

Flight tracking site FlightRadar24 indicates that Rex's Boeing 737 drawdown has been steadily building over the past week, with Rex having already grounded two of its six jets as of July 13 and three more across July 16-17; the last jet standing, with the tail number of VH-REX, made its final flight on Sunday July 18 from the Gold Coast to Melbourne.

While domestic air travel was recently showing solid signs of recovery, to the point where Qantas was projecting it would fly at 90% of pre-Covid capacity across the April-June quarter, a surge of cases involving the highly infectious Covid-19 Delta variant turned that trajectory into another nosedive.

According to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), one in every four domestic flights was cancelled in June – a total of 9,406 flights, reportedly the highest number since records began.

Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane all found themselves in lockdown at some stage during June.


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.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 376

Writing is on the wall already. I always thought they were overly ambitious starting capital city services during a pandemic. 

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 105

I don't think this has anything to do with their expansion. If you look at the 737 routes; MEL-OOL, MEL-ADL, MEL-CBR, MEL-SYD and SYD-OOL, they would all be affected by the lockdowns.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 376

Still have to pay for the plane rental during a grounding 

14 Feb 2015

Total posts 15

This is very true. Unless they are forced to into administration/declare bankruptcy - which sadly rumour has it, is not far off happening. 


you must have Qantas shares. No chance of Rex going belly up. Qantas will long before Rex.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 410

Rex is paying very little for the leased Boeing 737s in the first 12 months, if I remember, and I'm sure they can get that waived by the lessors in the interest of the lessors having Rex remain afloat and paying fees down the track.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 642

" ... and I'm sure they can get that waived by the lessors ..." - never a truer word QFP1, never a truer word.  Why, I'll bet the Lessors only comment was to remind Rex to lock the plans and don't leave the keys in the ignition.  Only the most foolish of Lessors would want their planes back right now.  


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 105

All these snap no warning lockdowns need to stop! Lets all get vaccinated and move on from this never ending BS! 

Another lockdown another canceled holiday ….. it’s getting tiring!!!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 363

Easier said than done. Most of my friends are in the pfizer age-bracket and are still waiting for their first shot.

Ryan K

In Brisbane CBD you can simply walk into a chemist & get a shot immediately.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1248

They won't survive.


Yes Qantas have some insanely high costs. When do you think they'll go belly up ?

I think some people here seem a bit too eager to see Rex collapse and seen this as a sign, but really, given the current situation with lockdowns and border closures it just makes sense and you have to wonder why they didn't even do it a week ago. Almost nobody can fly between the cities, and Rex has by far the smallest share of the market to begin with, so of course it makes sense just to pull the pin right now. And good on them for being upfront about and prompt about refunds too.

Good point, I’m surprised this didn’t occur earlier. Sensible move I’d say, and restart when everything settles down. 

lost it

where have you been, overseas ? Flights within Qld are going flat out. Why don't rex fly BNE/CNS eg. ?

In these times strong companies enjoy there strength and it cleans out the bottom feeders just surviving.


so you're saying qantas is stuffed & Rex will take over ?

@regular flyer

Quite the opposite Qantas will live on and REX will die a slow death, biggest mistake they made (REX) was to be bullish trying to trump VA or thinking VA wasn't going to survive 


yeah qantas is doing so well(not).

Rex made a profit on paper. How much did qantas get from govt ? few billion & still can't show a profit on paper.

Lets see in 12 months after flying starts again if there still around, my old head and experience tells me there stuffed.


yes qantas will either have to shrink dramatically or reduce crazy pay most qantas workers are on. Good luck with the unions qantas.

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 65

I think their automatic self serve refund process is great - does Qantas offer the same (I can't recall maybe that do)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 783

No, we're still trying to get a refund for flights booked for March 2020. 


03 May 2013

Total posts 668

surprise surprise.....not.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 410

Don't know why people are surprised at this, Rex has been cutting back those Boeing 737 flights once it was clear the lockdowns were staying for longer than first thought and as 'hard borders' started going up again. Makes sense to me, almost no-one is flying on those routes anyway. For my money this should not be taken as a sign that Rex is about to collapse, it's just a sensible business decision.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 642

Rex isn't quite alone, judging from their eb site booking portal it seems Virgin has reduced it's SYD-MEL to one (1) return flight per day until the end of August (2021).  SYD-MEL departs 0700 arriving 0835, a quick clean before then departing MEL at 0915 arriving SYD 10:40.  

We need all airline staff (flying and ground crews), teachers (K-12), ambos, cops and medicos (general and aged care) vaxed ASAP.  Due for my 2nd jab in 3 weeks time.  


09 May 2020

Total posts 554

Qantas has been talking about standing down staff as well.

I suppose the REx suspension also be gives REx a chance to rejig their schedule and close flights that are simply not attracting those connecting from regional destinations 

01 Oct 2020

Total posts 4

Rex reportedly pays around $60,000 a month per 738 aircraft. Currently halting operations would cost them $360k a month in leasing costs or $600k a month in leasing costs if the fleet expands to 10. They have quite a bit of capital to play with thanks to PAG so they will be fine.

think Rex will be flying to certain NZ destinations in 2022.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1192

Because they've been so successful taking on JQ, QF and VA they think it may be a good idea to take on NZ too.......NOT!!!

reeves35 - think outside the box.

Doubt if Rex will fly to AKL or anywhere Jetstar flies from Australia, but plenty of gaps.

With lower costs, Rex could fly routes than Jetstar should fly, but don't, as qantas won't allow it.

Think low frequency twice or even once a week & maybe even back of clock, to places such as

1. Dunedin(DUD) - used to have up to 4 Virgin flights a week from BNE. In Kiwi/Freedom days, used to also have flights to SYD & MEL

2. Invercargill(IVC) - runway extended to take widebodies - it's a very fast 90 min drive from Queenstown(ZQN), with none of ZQN weather issues(ie. regular closures at ZQN for days sometimes in winter & many diversions to IVC & DUD) BTW - Virgin announced they would fly to IVC but then changed their mind, as perceived competition with flights to ZQN.

3. Palmerstone North (PMR)-had nonstops from Australia

4. ROT - NZ used to fly SYD/ROT low frequency

5. Hamilton(HLZ) - 90 mins south of AKL - far enough away to capture some local market - not to SYD, MEL or BNE

6. Napier/Hastings - never had international flights, but could easily fill 1 x B737 once a week, seasonally.

No one from outside of AKL, CHC, WLG in NZ wants to fly domestically to one of these ports & then fly to Australia, as painful (AKL is a big mess & very expensive)

As Rex B738 fleet is small, might not be worth Air NZ, starting another Freedom air to tackle Rex & they might just leave them alone.

From Australian side

1. Newcastle(NTL) could easily sustain a few flights a week to NZ. No one living near NTL wants to go to SYD - how painful would that be.

2. Coffs Harbour(CFS)

3. various ports on Qld coast, such as MCY(not to AKL as that would compete with NZ)

4. ADL

5. CBR

& the list goes on & on & on.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1192

REX has shown absolutely zero interest in establishing anything remotely unique here in Australia, maybe if they had, they’d have been more successful. What makes you think they would show any originality if they decided to lose more money taking on the Tasman?


when you fly thin routes with no direct competition, you might make some money, as long as NZ doesn't see them as a threat. 

Look at BNE/DUD/BNE. up to 4 nonstops a week before covid. If Rex did 1 or 2 a week, locals would use them.

Also, know of 2 wholesalers who'd use Rex, as their charter costs are lower than QF, VA, NZ.

Rex would only fly long thin routes if the airports and local tourism bodies paid them short thick wads of cash. This is the rationale behind most of Rex's routes apart from SYD-MEL.

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