Rex looks to add more jets, more destinations

The country airline has its eye on two more Boeing jets plus new routes.

By David Flynn, March 15 2021
Rex looks to add more jets, more destinations

Regional Express has only just started flying a handful of Boeing 737s between Sydney and Melbourne, but the airline is eager to add more jets and more cities to its fledgling network as it takes on Qantas and Virgin Australia.

Rex will see its first tranche of six Boeing 737s parked in its Sydney hangars by the end of March, with Adelaide and the Gold Coast becoming their third and fourth destinations after previous plans to expand to Brisbane were put on hold.

In a sign of confidence on the recovery of domestic air travel, and its ability to carve out a slice of the current three-airline market (including low-cost carrier Jetstar), Rex says it's now "in discussions" on the delivery of two more Boeing 737s in time for the mid-year winter holiday season.

More ex-Virgin Boeing 737s on the way for Rex?
More ex-Virgin Boeing 737s on the way for Rex?

At the same time, the airline is shopping around among other "major cities" to host these jets.

"Rex intends to take delivery of two more 737s in June and is now in discussions with interested lessors," the airline has confirmed.

"Rex calls on major cities in Australia to send in their expression of interest if they wish to be the next in line to receive reliable air services at affordable fares delivered with Rex’s trademark country hospitality."

A spokesman for Regional Express told Executive Traveller "there are no further comments at this stage."

As with its first six Boeing 737s, Rex's follow-up jets are likely to be drawn from the sizeable stock of those formerly leased to Virgin Australia, to give the airline consistency across its fleet with eight business class and 168 economy seats.

Rex's Boeing 737 business class.
Rex's Boeing 737 business class.

In terms of new destinations, Rex has already indicated its interest in both Brisbane and Canberra.

"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," Rex Deputy Chairman John Sharp told Executive Traveller earlier this month, hinting at some reasons why the Queensland capital was sidelined for the Gold Coast.

"Brisbane could be more proactive in working with us to get things on the way."

However, Sharp also allowed that he sees 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.

Executive Traveller review: Rex Boeing 737 business class


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.