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.
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.
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.