REX & QANTAS: One withdraws from routes, and the other floods them
New arrival on the domestic scene, REX is blaming Goliath competitor Qantas for the cancellation of some marginal regional routes.
Yes, the logic is maybe a bit tortured, but here goes:
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REX is slashing some routes from Bathurst, Cooma, Lismore and Grafton to Sydney, and some Adelaide/Kangaroo Island flights on the grounds that Qantas has introduced 26 or so regional services in the last year during the pandemic. It’s even called on the regulator to get involved.
Now, that sounds fair enough, except oddly, it is only the Kangaroo Island/Adelaide route where Qantas provides actual competition. In fact REX has been threatening to exit that route for a long time – even before it announced its competitive entrance to the domestic market.
Qantas is even doubling down, threatening to look at taking on any of those routes REX is slated to abandon.
REX, defending its logic, has said that it will have to marshal its resources to defend other routes that Qantas has muscled into such as:
- Adelaide-Mount Gambier
- Melbourne-Mount Gambier
- Melbourne-Wagga Wagga
Qantas calls the REX move a ‘tantrum’ and typical of the airlines ‘poor regional me’ mantra that got it $62 million in COVID-19 support, while REX sees it as defensive to protect its other routes.
The fact that the COVID-19 related government support might be drying up on some of these routes come March would not enter either of these airlines thinking, would it?
New routes for REX
REX is also looking at some new routes from April – routes from which Virgin Australia has already withdrawn. They include Sydney to Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.
John Sharp the Vice-Chairman of REX is even threatening to enter routes where Qantas is currently the dominant carrier such as:
This reeks of a regional dog fight, and unless you are actually a rural potential passenger – shouldn’t be taken too seriously. If you are a traveller on any of these regional routes, then either you are likely to see a bit of a fare and capacity war, or the lack of one.
Both REX and Qantas are well versed in the dark arts of bending a story in their favour – although Qantas tends to do it with more finesse – mind you they have had more practice.
These two airlines need to start playing like adults instead of displaying childish tantrums. Otherwise, Rod Sims, Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will walk in with a big bad marshall’s badge!