Rex is a regional airline in Australia that has decided to take on the big boys, Qantas and Virgin Australia. Today they commenced operations between Sydney and Melbourne, bringing more competition to this route.

The airline has ambitious plans, with services from Melbourne to Coolangatta starting 29 March, Melbourne to Adelaide from 31 March and Sydney to Coolangatta from 1 April. Lead in fares on all routes are very good, especially in business class.

Who Are Rex?

The airline was born in 2002, when former Ansett Australia (which collapsed on 12 September 2001) employees created a new company and purchased the former Ansett subsidiaries, Hazleton Airlines and Kendall Airlines. These were merged together to form Regional Express, or Rex for short.

Regionally, the backbone of the fleet is the Saab 340 with 57 examples in service. In fact, Rex is the world’s largest operator of the 34 seat aircraft. These operate in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

Rex Take On The Big Boys

Leveraging its brand awareness and history, Rex saw the pandemic as a business opportunity to cautiously expand onto domestic routes. This was helped by the availability of suitable aircraft, as Virgin Australia recently downsized in business administration. The plucky regional carrier picked up six of Virgin’s 737s from leasing companies at what was probably a very competitive price.

Both business class and economy are available on Rex mainline services, including extra legroom seats at the front of the economy cabin. These are called Rextra Legroom, of course! Complimentary meals are offered in all classes.

Premium flyers receive a meal box, promising home-style country cooking showcasing Australian gourmet ingredients. My favourite part is that the tray is made from recyclable cardboard rather than plastic. It’s impressive, as virtually everyone else uses plastic for these.

Overall Thoughts

With business class fares starting at A$299 and economy fares at A$69, Rex has certainly thrown a cat among the pigeons. All the other carriers have adjusted their pricing to compete to one extent or another, which makes this interesting to watch.

Australia has been littered with airline failures since deregulation for a multitude of reasons. Rex is different in that they are an established profitable carrier who are starting small with an appropriate fleet for the routes they want to contest.

While their new website is better than the old, they don’t really have a frequent flyer programme and that could be an issue, though there are plans to introduce one. Here’s hoping they manage to make money consistently and stay in service.

Have you flown with Rex in Australia before? What do you think of them and their new foray into domestic flying? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Rex aircraft by Bidgee via Wikimedia Commons.