Rex snares Boeing 737s for Sydney-Melbourne flights

The first three Boeing 737-800 jets will be used to kickstart Sydney-Melbourne flights from March 1, 2021.

By David Flynn, September 30 2020
Rex snares Boeing 737s for Sydney-Melbourne flights

Regional Express has locked in six Boeing 737 jets for the start of its capital city service from March 2021, with tickets for the flights expected to go on sale in December.

Three jets will be used to launch Rex's Sydney-Melbourne route on March 1, 2021, "with another two aircraft beginning service before Easter," Regional Express Deputy Chairman John Sharp said today in a statement.

"From there, Rex will continue to grow the domestic fleet in line with the return of passenger demand and hopes to see its fleet of 737-800 NGs reach ten by year end."

The airline's proposal to investors, a copy of which has been sighted by Executive Traveller, indicated the first five routes Rex plans to tackle from its Sydney hub would be Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Adelaide.

“Should passenger numbers justify it, additional aircraft will be added to augment these services and to start another hub in Melbourne or to open up new routes to the other bigger cities – Darwin, Hobart, Cairns, Townsville, Launceston," the document added.

According to the presentation, fares on Rex's capital city network will be priced at "competitive rates with Jetstar and 5-10% cheaper than Qantas," while the services would occupy a “mid-tier” position below Qantas and Virgin Australia but above Jetstar.

Business class

Rex has signed Letters of Intent with two firms for the lease of six Boeing 737-800NG series aircraft, which Executive Traveller can confirm have been drawn from the ranks of Virgin Australia's former fleet.

They'll come fitted with Virgin's eight business class seats, which will be retained as a premium cabin.

In regard to its prefered Boeing 737 configuration, Rex's investor deck suggested that "a range of configurations based on immediate aircraft availability could be considered."

The first Rex Boeing 737 will be delivered on November 1 2020, with the remaining five aircraft being phased in over the following four months in readiness for the launch of Rex’s domestic jet operations.

"These aircraft are well received by passengers and have proven to be very suitable for operations in Australia," Sharp said.

Rex makes a rapid ramp-up

"Our preparations are progressing very well and on schedule and we hope to obtain regulatory approval by December," Sharp added. "Advanced ticket sales are also envisaged for December, subject to regulatory approval.”

Regional Express is currently advertising for Boeing 737 flight deck and cabin crew as it ramps up its ambitious plan to take on Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar on Australia's most profitable and highly-competitive routes.

The airline's investor proposal flagged the availability of "ex-VA assets & staff at distressed levels" to help fast-track the launch at a low cost base, adding that "pilots and engineers will also be queuing at the door."

Read more: Revealed – how Rex plans to take on Qantas, Virgin Australia


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.

21 Jul 2020

Total posts 7

Rex being no longer regional, I wonder if they will change their name soon.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Feb 2015

Total posts 150

Probably not, it will just be known as Rex, just like Qantas, which is Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services but obviously not just flying in Queensland and NT anymore. 


09 May 2020

Total posts 566

It’s still the Eastern seaboard region.... and only involving 3 states so far

Next region: Oceania!

24 Mar 2020

Total posts 2

First rule ... never mess with the brand!


03 May 2013

Total posts 673

What a mess. Rex, Virgin mkII, Qantas and Jetstar. Let’s see how successful 4 players will be. Jury is out for me. 

jetstar is mostly leisure airline. 

If I can get a last minute day trip return SYD/MEL/SYD for $600 instead of $900 on VA or $1000 on QF, I'll be flying Rex everytime & sometimes use VA or QF ff pts to fly elsewhere.

Am sure Rex will tie into some bank credit card & offer some fantastic opening points deal. It's not like rex are a newcomer.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 249

Probably means the larger players will have to shrink (which VA already has) to adjust to newcomer rex

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1197

I don't think QF or VA will meekly give up market share.  It is more likely the incumbents will aggressively compete in the market to force REX into a massive loss-making situation from which they have no option but to retreat.  

08 Jul 2015

Total posts 25

How on earth do they expect to entice entrenched QF and VA Frequent Flyers away from all the goodies they currently have with these carriers?  It will end in tears I fear.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 273

If they are 30-50% or more cheaper, I reckon that could do it for the general public. 

3 jets to start ? Am I reading this correctly ?

So does that mean 1 based in SYD & 2 in MEL or 3 in one city ?

Think they need to ramp up to 6 aircraft fast to offer decent frequency.

Maybe this is a con job to fool QF & VA ?

09 Aug 2015

Total posts 93

Sydney will be Rex's Boeing 737 hub so all jets will be based in Sydney. Rex says three jets for March 1 launch "with another two aircraft beginning service before Easter," and Easter is April 4, so if all five are used for SYD-MEL then that means the first three will quickly be supplemented by two more.


maybe initially with only 3 aircraft, rex should overnight a few aircraft at MEL to take advantage of insane SYD curfew.

That way they can possibly maximise usage on MEL/SYD, but taking off before 0600, say a 0530, which would arrive at SYD gate at around 0655. If it was turned around fast (ie 25 mins) it could be back at MEL gate by 0850.

Plenty of flights to SYD & MEL departing BNE at 0500 during Qld daylight saving.

Similarly at end of day, Rex could have a few aircraft depart SYD for MEL late such as 2100 or later. No airline would want to depart MEL for SYD at 2100 & with a slight delay be fighting to arrive SYD before curfew starts.

Think rex should delay starting SYD/BNE route until have plenty of aircraft, so it can adequately service the business crowd who think they need flights every 30 mins or less.


09 May 2020

Total posts 566

@ regular flyer

Having used REx some time ago, many of the first flight to NSW regional flights from SYD start around 0640 (which meant they have to be bussed 10 minutes before from the ground floor staging area). Considering the 737 will likely to use air bridge (or they can do the JQ way, which takes even longer to disembark) at another end of terminal 2, then flying from MEL catching connection flights in SYD to regional destinations is impossible unless they retime and delay  all the first NSW regional flights to allow for connecting or leave MEL latest 0515.

And for travellers leaving BNE, it’s not going to catch the same flights from SYD given for half a year they are 1 hour behind VIC and NSW. 

And I suspect the same happens to VIC and QLD regional flights from MEL and BNE respectively 

So if they are attracting regional travellers 6 am start for inter capital flights will make more sense to catch the second flight out to regional destination. 

And they will also compete with the VA and QF slots but as long as they are not chasing intercity business shuttle cliente then they will be making sure their pricing will attract those most sensitive to price 


16 Nov 2011

Total posts 585

I would imagine they would be based in the same location. Fleet size wouldn't justify multiple bases. Aircraft can  overnight in a city away from a base, other carries do it all the time.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1197

But they are not going to be 30-50% cheaper.  If you read the article it states that REx aim to be about 10% cheaper than QF which puts them at about VA prices and probably dearer than JQ depending on bundles etc.  At that pricing level, I do not see how they can survive as they have no unique selling proposition to entice pax away from incumbents.  If they had gone the ULCC route and priced less than Jetstar, they would've had something to sell with.

30-50% cheaper & 10% less than qantas is purposely very vague. Sharp is no idiot, he's not giving the game away yet.

Huge difference between cheapest jetstar & highest qantas economy fare.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1197

REX has a history of running away from competition and sooking when the going gets rough.  If they thought the majors played rough on a few regional services, wait until they turn on the heat on triangle flights.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Aug 2016

Total posts 11

Don't think they are going after those people.

People who usually fly with Jetstar and Tiger, people who aren't ff members or don't have a lot of points and just want a cheap fare will be the market they are going after. 

They will be competing with Jetstar. 

william95 they won't be competing with jetstar. They will go after small business types & all those who have to pay their own fares & public servants who actually get cheapest fare of the day (many don't).

1/2 of australia are frequent flyer members. Flybuys dumb move cutting points with Coles mastercard will mean many will pay less attention to ff programs.

+ elephant in the room - DEEP & LONG LASTING RECESSION !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


16 Nov 2011

Total posts 585

Public service isn't cheapest fare of the day it is it is lowest practical fare. There is a difference.

09 Aug 2015

Total posts 93

William, if you want to name airlines I think Rex will be going after Virgin more than anything else, trying to squeeze out some of Virgin's market share.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Nov 2019

Total posts 81

I am not sure about other regular flyers, I am P1 and honestly the perceived benefits Joycey spruiks are average at best..

I am happy to support an exciting expansion by Rex, and in these days of Zoom, Cisco etc, reduce my business travel and just pay for first or business class when I feel like, instead of the elusive P1.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 362

I honestly wish them luck! 


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 966

If borders were open I could book at least 5 return flights interstate and 1 overseas flight for next month.  I'm sure Qantas, Virgin and REX will be fighting over customers that need to travel more regularly so it will be a question, "what is in it for me".

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Apr 2011

Total posts 44

Why do I feel there are going to be tears before bedtime with this move?  Now is not the time to expand an airline and especially while so many of us can't even board a plane.  I know that will change, but not any time soon I suspect.  More importantly, money is going to be in short supply for discretionary spending such as holidays and air travel for many people during the recession.


now is perfect time to expand an airline.

Everything is cheap. Staff will probably be 75% of previous & will do more for less. Aircraft probably 50% off. Fuel cheap.

qantas is one in trouble. Their costs are way too high & dumb as unions want to keep it that way.

Holidays will get cheap & borders are opening fast.

22 Nov 2019

Total posts 6

Can’t see myself switching from Qantas or Virgin for interstate flights, particularly if no business is offered.  I gave up on Rex long ago for flights from my country town because of their unreliable service.  Sometimes wouldn’t find out about a cancelled flight until late the night before necessitating a hurried rebooking to another town and an hourlong early morning drive.   Now I drive to Sydney, stay at the Stamford and catch my flight the next morning, with the car garaged by Stamford until my return.   No stress, no industrial bus ride from terminal to plane.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1422

I think the focus is on their regional connections for which that smaller number of planes is fine. I see they mention Townsville at a later point in time for their gulf country connections. 

19 Jun 2020

Total posts 19

So Rex starts out the gate with 31” seat pitch, which is competitive over JQ and QF. 

I think they won't change any seating config initially, from ex VA aircraft, but it has been suggested they might also get ex TT B738s which have 186 Y seats.

Remember seat pitch doesn't directly equate to legroom.

Slimmer seat backs mean more leg room without changing seat pitch.

They might change seat config down the track after few months, looking at seat sales/fares sold.

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