Rex mulls business class, premium cabin for Boeing 737s

The regional airline confirms its Boeing 737s will retain the business class seats of former operator Virgin Australia.

By David Flynn, October 6 2020
Rex mulls business class, premium cabin for Boeing 737s

Regional Express will enter the Sydney-Melbourne market in March 2021 with eight business class seats crowning its Boeing 737 jets, in a move to help Rex go up against Virgin Australia and to some extent Qantas on the nation's most competitive route.

These will be the same business class seats and cabin as currently offered by Virgin Australia, as the first five Boeing 737s which Rex will use to launch its capital city network were previously leased to Virgin.

Rex will keep the business class seats on its ex-Virgin Boeing 737s.
Rex will keep the business class seats on its ex-Virgin Boeing 737s.

However, the airline hasn't yet determined precisely how those seats will fit into its 'hybrid' model, a spokesman for Rex told Executive Traveller.

While they could be offered to passengers as a conventional business class offering – inviting a sharper, more direct comparison again Qantas and Virgin – there's also the possibility they might be more of a ‘premium’ cabin in which the seat itself is the major differentiator from economy.

Regional Express Deputy Chairman John Sharp has previously remarked that while the airline's customers will be leisure travellers, "we believe we will attract small businesses and we will attract government travellers on the best price of the day."

If Rex is keeping the seating configuration of its Boeing 737s in tact, this will also mean the extra legroom rows of these jets – which Virgin sold as Economy X – will remain at rows 3, 4 and 5, along with emergency exit rows 13 and 14s, and could be offered as an upsell against the basic fare.

One of the extra legroom rows on Virgin Australia's Boeing 737s.
One of the extra legroom rows on Virgin Australia's Boeing 737s.

Tickets for Rex's Sydney-Melbourne flights are expected to go on sale in December.

Rex's capital city route rollout

Rex aims to have its first five Boeing 737s in the air by early April 2021 "and hopes to see its fleet of 737-800 NGs reach ten by year end," Sharp has said.

The airline's proposal to investors seeking to bankroll the capital city service, a copy of which has been sighted by Executive Traveller, indicated the first five routes Rex plans to tackle from its Sydney hub would be Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Adelaide.

“Should passenger numbers justify it, additional aircraft will be added to augment these services and to start another hub in Melbourne or to open up new routes to the other bigger cities – Darwin, Hobart, Cairns, Townsville, Launceston," the document added.

According to the presentation, fares on Rex's capital city network will be priced at "competitive rates with Jetstar and 5-10% cheaper than Qantas," while the services would occupy a “mid-tier” position below Qantas and Virgin Australia but above Jetstar.

Read more: How Rex plans to take on Qantas, Virgin Australia

David

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.

18 Jan 2017

Total posts 30

Are they going to pay a branding fee for having Virgin embosed on the seat?

22 Oct 2014

Total posts 13

Nothing speed tape can't fix @ bagpuss

09 Aug 2015

Total posts 50

Nothing some gaffer tape won't fix. But seriously, Rex will need to reupholster the seats to remove the Virgin branding. I'm very curious to see which way they go with this business class cabin, to me it would make more sense just to make it a premium cabin with extra comfort, because the rest of the inflight experience doesn't need to be any different to economy on SYD-MEL for example.

makes perfect senes to leave seating exactly as VA had it, so they can say, VA seating, Rex lower prices.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 349

Eggs-actly.

09 Aug 2015

Total posts 50

I think I've seen it mentioned that the first Rex 737 is due in November, am sure there will be a rollout with new livery before long. Rex has said it will keep the Rex brand although I think a 'marketing brand' for the capital city routes might also work. Didn't Qantas used to have something like that as well for the triangle or at least for SYD-MEL?

Virgin Australia - Platinum

26 Jun 2011

Total posts 79

IIRC Qantas had "CityFlyer" services for SYD-MEL.  I guessing Regional Express will simply become REX, if only for the capital city services.  It's what most people know and refer to them as already.

09 Aug 2015

Total posts 50

Yes, that's the one I was thinking of. Like Virgin Australia has 'Coast 2 Coast' for its early A330 transcon services. On second thought I don't know if Rex needs any thing more than just being 'Rex'.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 180

Frankly I would think a REx badge stuck on the embossing with super duper glue would have sufficed.

rex won't want to spend money where they don't need to. Keeping overheads low is name of the game now for everything. Heard many people working from home since corona struck, might stay there, as no office rent to pay, less interruptions & if necessary, they can go to work every week or so for meetings.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 349

A very 'REX' solution, XWu.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 180

@ Boeing-Tragic 

I don’t fly VA normally, but I certainly like their seats in all classes unlike the “fabric” crap in the QF cattle class.

All the REx executives have to make sure is that “glue” is super duper and doesn’t come off, or worse get stuck on their premium client clothes.

When they are sure the interstate shuttles is making money and here to stay then they can find some sweat shop somewhere else to refurbish the front end (if they end up going with premium forward economy seating just like Jetstar)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 328

Any idea on a livery for their 737's, or indeed if the name 'REX' is going to be maintained for the capital city routes?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1235

REXtra.

QFP

22 Jan 2013

Total posts 60

Will they use a 737 on the Canberra sectors, or put the Turob prop on it?

Wonder whose pilots they will use to fly their 737'S, since REX hasn't used these types of aircraft before, wonder will they re employ some from both Qantas and Virgin or train their own pilots on 737 flight simulators 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Jan 2014

Total posts 29

Rex is in a bit of a recruitment drive at the moment, so it will be new employees already qualified for 737 duty.  https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/search/?f_C=1690475&geoId=92000000 

Good to see another competitor but Australia needs a massive competitor to wipe the smirk off Alan Joyces’ face. A new domestic carrier bankrolled by Qatari Sovereign Wealth Fund/Qatar Airways......now you’re talking competition. How could Qantas and Virgin cope with brand new Qatar Airways A350-900s with the amazing Q Suite flying all over the country plus connecting Syd/Mel/Bne to Singapore Auckland and Bangkok.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 349

That suggestion is a really good 'niggle' and 'disrupter' to Capitan AJ, but we need to think of ALL airlines employees (i.e. the ones resident in Australia).  

22 Sep 2017

Total posts 38

Would be nice if they could establish a “mini lounge” at the gate with coffee, light brekky and some tables for working (right up to boarding).

I guess one gate will be enough for a while yet.

if rex concentrates on 1 route initially ie. SYD/MEL they'll need 2 (or 1 & 1/2 gates at one end, as would have flights very close together in peak hour.

Virgin Australia - Platinum

26 Jun 2011

Total posts 79

REX already have lounges in SYD and MEL.  They might get a bit of a "refresh" before launching the 737 flights with a "premium class", but I wouldn't expect too much.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jun 2017

Total posts 34

Ok. This could be 10 weeks of Melbourne lockdown fog speaking here but how about just offering the 8 business class seats as 8 random gate upgrades. Sell the plane as all economy and it’s a lucky dip. If you’re a regular flyer you might get an upgrade or two free a year. I’d be up for that. Element of happy surprise. Honestly between all the players it’s a seat on a plan for an hour or two, so your not really going to differentiate that much between carriers from an economy experience, so it’s a differentiator!. This adds a bit of fun and anticipation back into flying! (If you book as a pair / family etc, all upgraded if one the same ticket).  Just a random idea. 

08 Jul 2020

Total posts 7

I think keeping the business seats is smart move, especially for the Sydney Melbourne leg. I do agree that no extra service on board is needed. If they want to upsell it a bit more for those seats they could include a $15 airport food voucher and guaranteed direct overhead storage, so you can enjoy a coffee or something of you choice whilst the rest of the plane boards. I know some people might say if you do that you may as well offer something else on the plane. But my reasoning is, it is so much easier and cost effective to cater for 1 class than having a 2nd class of product and hoping the seats are full.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 180

Considering the snack service is sweet or savoury plus juice or water and tea and coffee after service, it’s not a big deal with selling the front seats as premium economy with first to disembark and a bigger package of snacks and complimentary access to lounge ($33 for casual entry atm)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 349

What a pity REX can't operate this low-cost competitive service from Moorabbin airport here in Melbourne, it would make a killing.  

don't think Moorabbin can take any B737. ABX on other hand can take a B737-300, admittedly with some slight weight restriction due to terrain, so presumably also a B737-700.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Nov 2016

Total posts 14

Plenty of people would pay extra for the larger seats and also the extended leg room.  no need to change the in-flight service.

as the the VA logo, 8 x seat covers would fix it short term 🤷‍♂️


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Rex mulls business class, premium cabin for Boeing 737s