By Mike Mangano
Regional Express Receives 7th 737 As Australian Industry Turmoil Continues
Australian regional airline Regional Express has made further headway in its growth by receiving its seventh Boeing 737-800NG. Rex, as the airline is more commonly known, made the announcement Aug. 31, after it took delivery of the aircraft the previous evening.
Rex’s newest Boeing flew into Brisbane, Australia from Montpellier, France after undergoing a scheduled heavy maintenance check before departure. With its new registration VH-MFM, the aircraft is slated to commence service with Rex sometime in early September, and will enable the airline to increase its services on the so-called “Golden Triangle” between Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
In a statement, Rex Deputy Chairman John Sharp said their “seventh aircraft allows us to meet the ever-increasing demand for Rex’s services given the shocking reliability of both Qantas and Virgin Australia.” He further added that the demand is so great that “we are urgently looking for another two Bowing 737-800NGs,” with the goal of deploying the aircraft by somewhere between the second and third quarters of this financial year.
Australia’s airline industry continues to face a crisis of staff shortages and sick flight crew. Since the nation’s domestic and international borders were opened earlier this year, Australian airline giant Qantas has copped the heaviest criticism, with its CEO Alan Joyce last week apologizing and attempting to redeem the airline by offering its frequent flyers 50 Australian dollar ($34) vouchers for use on its flights.
The latest government statistics paint a picture of poor reliability for Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia, with each reporting cancellation rates of 6.2%, 8.8% and 7.7% respectively. Rex, for its part, reported the lowest cancellation rate of just 2.1%.
The issues faced by Jetstar – a budget subsidiary of Qantas – reveal themselves by a comparison with Rex, which had similar scheduled flights to the former in the month of July 2022. Jetstar, with a total of 7,201 scheduled flights, and Rex, with 6,559, show a difference in cancellations of 6.7%.
The Australian public’s view of its flag carrier airline, Qantas, this week took another dive after major news outlets Bloomberg and Australia’s ABC delivered further scathing criticism of the airline. This criticism, adding to that of Rex – which claims Qantas acts unethically – has further fanned the flames of irate customers.
While Qantas was found to have illegally fired it workforce in what appears to be a bid to save costs, despite having received large government bailouts, its passengers have been left with high cancellations and a poor refund system which prevented over $1 billion AUD from being returned to customers.
While other airlines around the world have strong competition between themselves, such as the US and Europe, Australia is mostly dominated by Qantas and its budget subsidiary Jetstar. In essence, the monopoly has allowed Qantas to deliver services to already dry routes only to shut out its competition and then close the route itself later.
ABC’s upcoming “4 Corners” episode, scheduled for Sept. 5, claims to further describe an airline which is facing increasing turbulence from both outside and within.