Regional Express still hopes to add Brisbane to its fledgling jet network, with flights from the Queensland capital to both Sydney and Melbourne completing its play for Australia's east coast triangle in direct competition with Qantas and Virgin Australia.
Rex Deputy Chairman John Sharp says that even when the first six ex-Virgin Boeing 737s arrive by the end of this month, and flights begin to Adelaide and the Gold Coast from March 29, "we can do more than those destinations with the aircraft."
Brisbane – which Rex long ago nominated as its third city after the Sydney-Melbourne launch, with flights to begin in early April – remains on the board, but Sharp says the ball is in its court.
"It just depends very much on Brisbane Airport as to whether they want to get on with the job or whether they want to continue to work at the pace they're working at... Brisbane could be more proactive in working with us to get things on the way."
By comparison, Sharp praised airport management at Adelaide and the Gold Coast for their enthusiasm to see the airline at their gates.
"They're two airports (that are) really easy to work with, everything's positive, there're no problems and everything gets solved quickly (so) you tend to respond by saying, 'Well, let's do that.'"
"Gold Coast Airport has been fantastic in the way they've worked with us, and where there was a problem, it disappeared sort of overnight."
Enthusiasm and inducements
Sharp said that Melbourne Airport had also been "very cooperative in the way we've worked with them. They were anxious for us to develop more services out of Melbourne beyond just the Sydney route, and as soon as possible, and they had various inducements for us to do that."
Executive Traveller understands that Brisbane was still on Rex's map as late as February, but the airline also saw more short-term potential in the leisure market, whereas the Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne corridor is more reliant on business travellers.
"The leisure market is quite strong at the moment, given that international borders have been closed and Australians are holidaying in Australia," Sharp said.
"The business market will take some time to come back, and obviously, the Gold Coast is a big part of the Australian leisure market."
As previously reported, Sharp has also suggested Rex could enter the Sydney-Canberra market, which is currently exclusive to Qantas, with a Boeing 737 jet assigned to peak services and the smaller 33-seat Saab 340B turboprop rostered at off-peak times.
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