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REX & QANTAS: One withdraws from routes, and the other floods them

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:

REX argues

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-Albury
  • Melbourne-Merimbula
  • Melbourne-Mount Gambier
  • Melbourne-Wagga Wagga
  • Orange-Sydney
  • Sydney-Griffith
  • Sydney-Merimbula
an airplane with rows of seats

Qantas responds

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REX is also looking at some new routes from April – routes from which Virgin Australia has already withdrawn.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:

  • Melbourne-Devonport
  • Perth-Geraldton
  • Sydney-Canberra
  • Sydney-Tamworth

If you want to read more – try the AFR or SMH coverage.

a man sitting in an airplane
Qantas DASH-8 interior

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

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!

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