Regional Express plans to add more Boeing 737s within months, giving it enough jets for a nationwide network of intercity routes as it seeks to steal business away from troubled Qantas.
Rex, best known for flying small propeller-driven aircraft between regional towns, is fast building out a new jet division plying busy domestic routes including Sydney-Melbourne.
The tiny airline is carving out market share partly because it’s proving more reliable than giant rival Qantas, which is beset by post-pandemic flight cancellations, delays and lost bags.
Having added a seventh Boeing 737 last week, Rex could add two more by the end of 2022, director Chris Hine said in an interview at a CAPA Centre for Aviation conference in Adelaide.
Those extra planes could potentially open up routes to Australia’s western seaboard, to Tasmania in the south, or to new destinations on the east coast, Hine said.
“It’s probably a network that does start to have critical mass,” Hine said. “We haven’t made a decision as a board yet but there are various opportunities.”
Rex’s new fast-jet business has helped the company more than double its pre-pandemic market share to 5%, with the 737s – most of which were previously leased to Vigin Australia – carrying business and economy class.
Hine described Qantas’s current operational woes, which are piling pressure on Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce, as Rex’s best advert.
Rex could ultimately drive its market share to 10% or more as additional jets enter service, Hine said.
“Every time we see an opportunity to grow that fleet, we’ll take it,” he said. Regional Express, has previously said it plans to operate as many as 30 Boeing 737s.
Rex is now working on a new lounge at Brisbane Airport to bed down its proposition on the ‘triangle’ between the east coast capital cities, along with developing an all-new Rex frequent flyer program which is expected to spark a loyalty dogfight with Qantas and Virgin.
Additional reporting by David Flynn
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