Executive Traveller exclusive
Irony alert: one of the Boeing 737 jets with which Regional Express will take on Virgin Australia is none other than a jet named for Virgin co-founder Brett Godfrey.
Rex will lease six Boeing 737 jets to launch flights between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane across March-April 2021 as it seeks a share of the lucrative 'triangle' traffic between Australia's east coast capitals, with an eye towards a fleet of 30-40 jets linking all capital cities.
According to a fleet delivery schedule sighted by Executive Traveller, the fifth Boeing 737 to be handed over to Rex carries the registration of VH-BZG, making it none other than the Boeing 737 named in honour of Brett Godfrey (the 'Z' being for his wife Zahra).
Melbourne-born Godfrey founded Virgin Blue alongside Richard Branson in 2000, after working at Virgin Atlantic and famously pitching the low-cost Qantas challenger to Branson in what the Brit billionaire described as "presenting his ideas to me sketched out on a beer mat."
Godfrey served as CEO of Virgin Blue until 2010, after which the airline was rebranded and repositioned as the upmarket Virgin Australia by his successor John Borghetti.
His retirement was marked by the delivery in August 2010 of a Boeing 737 with the VH-BZG registration and carrying the name "Brett’s Jet".
Curiously, Rex's fleet delivery schedule indicated that BZG – which like most of the initial Boeing 737s is being leased from Castlelake – would have its registration changed to MFM.
Those are notably the initials of Michael Francis McCormack: Australia's Deputy Prime Minister, National Party leader, proud son of Wagga Wagga and federal member for the local electorate of Riverina.
However, a spokesman for Regional Express told Executive Traveller that the first six Boeing 737s would all follow the airline's convention of registrations beginning with the letter R.