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true to their word:

Rex Airlines has started flying on Australia's busiest route, Melbourne to Sydney,for the first time.

I saw somewhere they are still sourcing their third jet.... otherwise getting the triangle SYD MEL BNE covered will be hard.


Also Mr Joyce (such a fair weather friend) is selectively competing on regional routes

An airline war is set to erupt over the skies of regional Australia with Qantas announcing plans to expand its operations and muscle into key new routes.


The national carrier will introduce seven routes across New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria and offer special fares to lure customers away from its competitors. The destinations will include Mount Gambier, Wagga Wagga, Merimbula, Newcastle, Griffith, and Albury.

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And in a surprise outcome of COVID that nobody saw coming.

From The Australian Business review


COVID-19 has rearranged Aus­tralia’s aviation landscape in a way no airline could have imagined, with regional centres being courted by carriers seeking new revenue streams.


As capital city gateways continue to struggle in the face of state and international border closures, airports at Orange, Ballina ­and Sunshine Coast have returned to or exceeded pre-COVID passenger numbers.


Sunshine Coast Airport went into COVID with two domestic routes to Sydney and Melbourne but has increased that to seven, with the addition of Adelaide, Canberra, Cairns, Emerald and Newcastle.

Airport chief executive Andrew Brodie said it was a staggering turnaround after having no flights at all for several months last year. “It’s quite amazing. The airlines are definitely thinking differently and for the first time we’re getting Qantas main line from Melbourne in the morning and afternoon,†Mr Brodie said.


“It gives people the opportunity to do business and come back at the end of the day.â€


In the case of Ballina Byron Airport, new connections to Canberra and Dubbo plus added ­capacity out of Sydney and Melbourne saw passenger numbers exceed pre-COVID figures between November and January.


The airport also benefited from state border closures, with northern NSW residents who would have normally used Gold Coast or Brisbane Airports flying out of Ballina instead.


“Since the return of capital city services, Ballina has witnessed strong demand for air services to this region as an attractive coastal destination,†said airport chief executive Julie Stewart. “We can expect that with the permanent easing of border restrictions, passenger growth will continue but at a more measured rate.â€


Orange was another regional centre reaping the benefits of the “COVID effectâ€, with the local council extending the airport carpark to help meet demand.


Deputy mayor Sam Romano, chairman of the Orange Airport community committee, said the “whole game had changed†as a result of the pandemic.

“The city has gone gangbusters and the airlines have a lot to do with that. I’m very grateful we’ve got Link Airways and Qantas flights every day to Brisbane, and two or three days to Melbourne,†Mr Romano said.


“These airlines aren’t here just because Orange is a nice place — they’re making money, the business is here.â€


Coffs Harbour Airport was also in line for a boom, with an extra 200,000 airline seats scheduled to operate into the town this year on flights from Melbourne, K Brisbane and Sydney.


Qantas Group chief Alan Joyce said the airline was adding regional routes and increasing cap­acity in response to demand.


Since COVID struck, the carrier had announced 26 new routes, and Mr Joyce said all were generating a positive cash flow.


“We’ve had Sydney-Ballina double in size from where it was pre-COVID, and new routes from Canberra to Maroochydore and Canberra to Cairns booming as well. People are going where they see borders are open and they can travel.â€


Regional Express airlines (Rex), which will launch its first Sydney-Melbourne services on Monday, is also adding the Gold Coast to its network.


From March 29, Rex will operate two return flights a day between Melbourne and the Gold Coast, and will do the same from Sydney as of April 1.


Not to be left out, Virgin Australia has partnered with Alliance Aviation to operate an expanded regional network, with Tamworth, Mildura and Port Macquarie in its sights.


The carrier, which emerged from administration late last year, currently flies to 28 regional destin­ations in addition to ­Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.


The big question is, is this a transient thing or the way of the future.


I sit on an advisory committee for our local airport (which by the way does not (yet) have any RPT services), and we have been grappling for some time with short medium and long term strategy plans. Most of the short and medium strategy plans have gone out the window, and even the long term (as in 25 years out ) , are looking decidedly obsolete.

Kinda hard to plan when the ground rules are so shaky.



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when Canberra airport fell into the corporate grips (Snow n Co) it became a property tilt with a business park and cheap rents attracting govt departments (no public transport so everyone needed a car, so more multi storey pancakes)

But what did suffer was General Aviation, the small sub regional services with a half dozen passengers, as well as private aviation as the ground costs became too high.


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Mate of mine who has a C182 in Canberra, says it costs him 15,000 a year to keep it at Canberra Airport.

For him its a tax deduction, so it eases the pain a little, but for someone just doing private/recreational ops it would not be feasible.

The next nearest airports are Tumut and Goulburn, hardly just around the corner.

But most airports eventually go the same.

I used to fly into Cairns every couple of years or so, but about 10 years ago the costs went astronomically high.

I then switched to landing and parking at Mareeba and getting a hire car from there.

Last time I was at Mareeba, virtually the entire GA fleet from Cairns had shifted to Mareeba, and the council got funds from the Regional Airports boondoggle n(may have been run by Bidget Mac, not sure). New Taxiways, larger parking and tiedown areas, bigger terminals, clean toilets etc.

Thriving hub of GA at the time. Not sure how its faring now.



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I am amazed. We have had a pandemic, an aggressive Qantas moving to regional routes, a tilt towards jets and trying to get into the big cities. FIFO has been on and off. And where are we?

REX will introduce a seventh Boeing 737 jet to its fleet and is in advanced discussions to acquire two more following a bumper start to the new financial year.

The airline said passenger revenue reached $13.6 million in July, nearly twice the monthly average in the previous three months of $6.9 million. Before COVID19, Rex reported $278.8 million in passenger revenue in the 2019 financial year, and that was before the regional carrier launched domestic flights last year. Domestic interstate flights were 86 per cent full last month.


On regional routes, July revenue and passenger numbers were almost identical to that of July 2019, the latest comparative month before the COVID pandemic, with about 4% less flying.  The revenue per flight and the load factor have both improved by 8% and 7% respectively


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We are particularly proud of our On Time Performance and low cancellation rates, which are in stark contrast to the total chaos and dysfunctionality of the other carriers with horror stories of planeloads of luggage being lost and passengers sleeping overnight on the floor at airports..

In June, Rex cancelled only 0.7 per cent of flights and 80 per cent arrived on time.
Qantas / Jetstar cancelled 7.5 per cent of flights and less than 60 per cent arrived on time.
Virgin cancelled 5.8 per cent of flights and less than 61.8 per cent arrived on time.

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