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.
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."