Rex to launch Sydney-Canberra flights from April 19

Brace yourself for some solid competition on the capital city corridor.

By David Flynn, March 24 2021
Rex to launch Sydney-Canberra flights from April 19

Regional Express is aiming to bust Qantas' current monopoly on the Sydney-Canberra route with the launch of its own flights on the capital city corridor from April 19.

The ambitious assault will match Qantas' own busy schedule with seven return Rex flights each day; fares will go on sale from later this week from $99 one-way.

Rex is expected to begin Sydney-Canberra flights using its workhorse 33-seat all-economy Saab 340B turboprops, but with the scope to swap in the larger Boeing 737 jets – with eight seats in business class and 168 in economy – during the morning and afternoon peak hours according to demand.

This is the same approach adopted by Qantas, which flies a mix of Boeing 717 jets and Dash 8 turboprops.

Rex's fresh presence at Canberra Airport will be complemented by the opening of its own lounge.

Rex sees its mixed fleet as helping find the right fit for Canberra.
Rex sees its mixed fleet as helping find the right fit for Canberra.

"Rex's affordable fares will greatly stimulate more business and leisure traffic between Sydney and the national capital as the industry continues to recover," says Rex Deputy Chairman John Sharp, who added the airline's schedule could exceed 10 return flights a day depending on passenger uptake.

"We believe that on the Sydney-Canberra route alone Rex will be bringing annual savings of between $60-$100 million to commuters when numbers return to pre-COVID levels, such is the level of fare gouging being practised."

Sydney-Canberra is currently the exclusive domain of Qantas, with Virgin Australia having suspended its Sydney-Canberra services and earmarking the route as one to be flown by partner Alliance Airlines.

Rex brings a fresh face to Canberra Airport.
Rex brings a fresh face to Canberra Airport.

Qantas has shot back at Rex, saying that unlike the regional airline "we welcome competition on the routes we fly and we're confident in the product we're offering."

"There has been strong competition on Sydney-Canberra until quite recently, when Virgin pulled off as they went into administration. Our lead in fares on the route haven’t changed since then and we’ve recently had sale fares for as low as $109."

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has welcomed Regional Express as "a vote of confidence in this city."

"We are delighted to be working closely with the airline and Canberra Airport through Visit Canberra to widely promote the new services and contribute to the growth of the route."

Rex is drawing on a $150 million private equity 'war chest' to build out its Boeing 737 network, which launched on the Sydney-Melbourne route on March 1 and from the end of this month will bring the Gold Coast and Adelaide under its wing.

Also read: ET review – Rex Boeing 737 business class

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.

Lmc
Lmc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 83

Rex are quickly outplaying Virgin! 

Good luck to them 

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 211

Got to love competition, as long as it doesn't become a 'race to the bottom' in product and a price-capacity war which ruins things in the long term.

Qantas can't afford to drop fares & without Virgin .........

What routes will Alliance fly ? BNE/CBR ? MEL/CBR or SYD/CBR ?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 320

An interesting move by REX. 

Has anyone else noticed that VA have a decent schedule using ATR's from late July/Aug on the Syd-Can route?

I wish them all luck, as long as the consumer wins and I’m glad we have REX keeping the other two honest. Long term I can’t see 3 surviving in such a small market.

who's the 3rd airline flying SYD/CBR ? No Virgin.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 320

Virgin have flights scheduled between SYD-CBR from late August using the ATR72. 

Virgin have zero ATRs

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1254

Regular they have a partnership with alliance and apologies but I should have said a Fockerb50.

Know Fokker 50s or 70s have been talked about on SYD/CBR but has it been confirmed yet or  ?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 320

I know that as of NOW they have no ATR’s.

I’m just letting you know what is bookable via the Virgin Australia website. Do the research!!

Whether or not there is an issue with their website, maybe David can follow up.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 211

This is just a carry-over of the old VA schedule before they axed the ATRs, every few months out the old schedule appears online, and then as it gets closer Virgin nukes it. Don;t really know why they don't just remove it altogether, wonder what'd happen if somebody tried to book it!

flights in & out of CBR are the most expensive/km in the country, I guess because public servants don't care what the fare is & those going to see public servants don't care either.

Remembering, that pollies are only public servants.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Feb 2020

Total posts 23

Yes regularflyer they are expensive so all the more reason for competition. As an SME (not PS) I fly that route frequently and cancellations during peak are common so choice and flexibility are paramount 

NZ

13 Aug 2016

Total posts 62

Compared to AKL-WLG! Which is approximately the same distance (maybe slightly more).

NZ entry level fare is $59, and JQ is around $39-49ish! 

NZ has about 20x daily a320/321 services, and JQ around 5x daily a320 services.

You would think that SYD-CBR would be the same...

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2469

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Rxm
Rxm

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2017

Total posts 58

Sydney Canberra has to be the most overpriced route in the country. Going back a few years when Ansett competed you could get a $69 return fare on a weekend. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1254

Rex will have the smallest planes on the route the Saabs half the capacity of the Q400s and the ATRs, so interesting to see how that plays out. A 737 up against a 717 at peak hour won’t last long.

what ATRs ? Virgin don't have any. Much rather fly a Rex 737 than a Qantaslink 717.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1254

Regular meant a Focker 50, and getting on and off is the only Saab advantage. Just flew one to Hobart and I wouldn’t chose it if I had a choice.

surely a Fokker 70 would be better. Most would surely fly an 80 seater jet. All of the F50 are 40 years old nearly ? Or older maybe.

Rex 34 seat Saabs much quicker to get on & off than Q400s

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 18

Not much use if you have to wait for a bus transfer in SYD with Rex....

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 381

In the old days (last millennium) Murray’s does a great coach alternative at $300 per 10 vouchers between JOLIMONT station off northbourne ave to CENTRAL station Sydney with occasionally a booked pickup stop somewhere in South Sydney along the route. Given the number of available trips per day and never cancelled by fog (a big issue for CBR) it was popular and makes great sense particularly if you happened to live in South Sydney.

From memory at least 10 years ago they upgraded their interior to airplane style comfort and power slots but the price also increase to variable pricing like JQ / VA incremental fares 

Wonder if anyone here still uses them. 

This air price war might squeeze them 

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 211

I seriously can't see business travellers jumping onto a Murray's coach LOL

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 381

I never thought so too 10 yrs ago until one day the entire morning schedule gets wiped out by the fog CBR often have and the back log from the cancelled flights made it impossible to tell when you get on the plane and the knock on effect on other routes

Tried looking at Murray’s but too late all the seats were booked out then (I happened to check to see the booking the night before as the forecast did suggest fog). Fortunately I had some priority with QF as I was connecting to international flight in the afternoon 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Feb 2020

Total posts 23

Correct 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Feb 2020

Total posts 23

Exactly QFP1...

08 Jul 2020

Total posts 9

By only having the 34 seat Saab, REX aren't asking for a huge amount of extra people to be flying that route, so it could work. Also if they are happy to fly the 737 with full business and 1/3 economy then good on them. I think if they ever sign the ATR42 and 72 deals that they looked at the last couple of years, then that would make sense on this route.

As for the bus, pre pandemic it was still booming 2 companies with over 15 buses a day between them currently 13, so it will survive in some capacity.  My favourite for this route is the train but only a few trains a day go into Canberra.

The current fares for the 19th April: Train $40(2nd)$57(1st), bus $45, Qantas $192-242(economy)

REX coming in with $99 fares, could be a great price point, especially if they can maintain it.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Feb 2020

Total posts 23

Thank you for the research but train and bus are out of the question for me. Rex will need price advantage , flexibility for changes and a decent lounge and FF points to compete in this market. I hope they can but if not it is QF for now noting that VA just re-opened CBR Lounge..

25 Feb 2015

Total posts 2

With no substantive connecting traffic in Sydney, especially to and from international flights at the moment, it is probably not the right time for REX to be introducing services on the Canberra-Sydney route. And the $99 fare will almost certainly be matched by Qantas. And they will also be competing with the frequent Murrays coach services and a significantly improved road system which makes car travel fairly attractive, especially if 2 or more people are travelling together.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jun 2019

Total posts 2

Great to see Rex flying between SYD & CBR. It’s about time Qantas had some competition on this route. Airfares are atrocious, especially when Parliament is in session or, like this Friday, finishing.  I’m not prepared to pay almost $500 for a one way economy fare. Murray’s bus is very comfortable, & you get a fee trip every time you’ve done 6 trips with them. And departing from the CBD in CBR to Sydney Central Station. No delays, they leave on time & arrive on time.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 18

Not my experience with Murrays Buses -maybe it was just bad luck but 4 trips - late 4 times (up to an hour once) M5 traffic being the culprit. Although flights can be just as bad too 


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