On Friday (22 Sep), Australian airline Regional Express (Rex) announced the suspension of more flights departing from Sydney, citing allegations of competitor misconduct. Rex accused major player Qantas Airways of exploiting its regional pilots, a claim that Qantas vehemently denied.
A Qantas spokesperson swiftly dismissed Rex’s accusations, stating, “The company rubbishes such claims.”
Rex explained that it had no choice but to implement these flight reductions, impacting regional routes connecting Sydney to several towns in New South Wales. These routes require SAAB-340 twin-engine pilots, and Rex had become entangled in a labor dispute with these pilots following the rejection of a pay proposal in 2022.
In April, Rex had already altered or reduced flight schedules for nine services spanning four states, affecting routes between Sydney and destinations such as Broken Hill, Melbourne, Wagga Wagga, and Adelaide to Port Lincoln. The airline assured that these affected operations would return to their regular schedules by the end of March 2024, provided the situation improves.
Rex has a history of accusing Qantas of aggressive behavior toward smaller aviation players. Previously, its deputy chairman likened Qantas to a “bully” and questioned the compensation package of Qantas’ outgoing CEO, Alan Joyce.
In June 2022, while unveiling plans for a new regional route to Melbourne, Rex criticized Qantas for alleged “price gouging” in domestic routes.
In addition to the current flight suspensions, Rex has temporarily halted services between Sydney and Armidale until the end of March next year. Furthermore, the airline confirmed that the routes previously canceled earlier in the year, along with its Adelaide-Mildura operation, would remain suspended for at least another five months.
Rex’s market share remains modest, accounting for 4.8% in April, as reported by the country’s competition regulator. This figure pales in comparison to the commanding market shares of Qantas at 60.8% and Virgin Australia at 33.2%.