Rex suspends all Boeing 737 flights due to border closures, lockdowns

Regional Express has grounded all inter-city Boeing 737 jet services with immediate effect.

By David Flynn, July 21 2021
Rex suspends all Boeing 737 flights due to border closures, lockdowns

Rex has suspended all Boeing 737 flights with immediate effect, while also reducing the frequency of its regional flights, as city lockdowns and state border closures continue to hammer air travel.

The airline's entire Boeing 737 fleet is now grounded, along with its nascent network of flights linking Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, the Gold Coast and Adelaide.

Regional services will remain in place to keep those communities connected, but see reductions in frequency, in some cases with only a handful of flights per week.

"Domestic and Regional routes on Rex's network in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania will be either temporarily suspended or greatly reduced until the end of the State Government imposed border closures and/or lockdowns," the airline said in a media statement issues this evening.

Refunds available

The airline has reassured passengers that it will continue to offer a refund within days of their claim, in accordance with the Rex COVID Refund Guarantee outlined on the Rex home page.

This includes bookings made through a travel agent as well as directly with Regional Express via its website.

"Rex's COVID Refund Portal ensures that our passengers receive their money in the bank within 2-3 days of making an eligible refund request through our automated portal," said Rex Deputy Chairman John Sharp.

"This gives our passengers the complete peace of mind to make their flight bookings without worry of any snap lockdowns and subsequent loss of money."

Flight tracking site FlightRadar24 indicates that Rex's Boeing 737 drawdown has been steadily building over the past week, with Rex having already grounded two of its six jets as of July 13 and three more across July 16-17; the last jet standing, with the tail number of VH-REX, made its final flight on Sunday July 18 from the Gold Coast to Melbourne.

While domestic air travel was recently showing solid signs of recovery, to the point where Qantas was projecting it would fly at 90% of pre-Covid capacity across the April-June quarter, a surge of cases involving the highly infectious Covid-19 Delta variant turned that trajectory into another nosedive.

According to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), one in every four domestic flights was cancelled in June – a total of 9,406 flights, reportedly the highest number since records began.

Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane all found themselves in lockdown at some stage during June.

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.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 364

Writing is on the wall already. I always thought they were overly ambitious starting capital city services during a pandemic. 

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 98

I don't think this has anything to do with their expansion. If you look at the 737 routes; MEL-OOL, MEL-ADL, MEL-CBR, MEL-SYD and SYD-OOL, they would all be affected by the lockdowns.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 364

Still have to pay for the plane rental during a grounding 

14 Feb 2015

Total posts 8

This is very true. Unless they are forced to into administration/declare bankruptcy - which sadly rumour has it, is not far off happening. 

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 288

Rex is paying very little for the leased Boeing 737s in the first 12 months, if I remember, and I'm sure they can get that waived by the lessors in the interest of the lessors having Rex remain afloat and paying fees down the track.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 468

" ... and I'm sure they can get that waived by the lessors ..." - never a truer word QFP1, never a truer word.  Why, I'll bet the Lessors only comment was to remind Rex to lock the plans and don't leave the keys in the ignition.  Only the most foolish of Lessors would want their planes back right now.  

Lmc
Lmc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 97

All these snap no warning lockdowns need to stop! Lets all get vaccinated and move on from this never ending BS! 

Another lockdown another canceled holiday ….. it’s getting tiring!!!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 347

Easier said than done. Most of my friends are in the pfizer age-bracket and are still waiting for their first shot.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1262

They won't survive.

I think some people here seem a bit too eager to see Rex collapse and seen this as a sign, but really, given the current situation with lockdowns and border closures it just makes sense and you have to wonder why they didn't even do it a week ago. Almost nobody can fly between the cities, and Rex has by far the smallest share of the market to begin with, so of course it makes sense just to pull the pin right now. And good on them for being upfront about and prompt about refunds too.

Good point, I’m surprised this didn’t occur earlier. Sensible move I’d say, and restart when everything settles down. 

In these times strong companies enjoy there strength and it cleans out the bottom feeders just surviving.

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 19

I think their automatic self serve refund process is great - does Qantas offer the same (I can't recall maybe that do)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 794

No, we're still trying to get a refund for flights booked for March 2020. 

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 603

surprise surprise.....not.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 288

Don't know why people are surprised at this, Rex has been cutting back those Boeing 737 flights once it was clear the lockdowns were staying for longer than first thought and as 'hard borders' started going up again. Makes sense to me, almost no-one is flying on those routes anyway. For my money this should not be taken as a sign that Rex is about to collapse, it's just a sensible business decision.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 468

Rex isn't quite alone, judging from their eb site booking portal it seems Virgin has reduced it's SYD-MEL to one (1) return flight per day until the end of August (2021).  SYD-MEL departs 0700 arriving 0835, a quick clean before then departing MEL at 0915 arriving SYD 10:40.  

We need all airline staff (flying and ground crews), teachers (K-12), ambos, cops and medicos (general and aged care) vaxed ASAP.  Due for my 2nd jab in 3 weeks time.  

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 415

Qantas has been talking about standing down staff as well.

I suppose the REx suspension also be gives REx a chance to rejig their schedule and close flights that are simply not attracting those connecting from regional destinations 

01 Oct 2020

Total posts 4

Rex reportedly pays around $60,000 a month per 738 aircraft. Currently halting operations would cost them $360k a month in leasing costs or $600k a month in leasing costs if the fleet expands to 10. They have quite a bit of capital to play with thanks to PAG so they will be fine.


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