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Rex Airlines adds two new Boeing jets to its domestic fleet

Rex hopes to expand its reach across Australia.

Rex hopes to expand its reach across Australia. Photo: AAP

Rex Airlines will lease two new Boeing 737-800 NG jets, with the aircraft expected to arrive in June and July.

Rex Airlines said it had signed a letter of understanding for the jets, which would expand the carrier’s domestic fleet of 737-800 NG jets to nine.

Rex deputy chairman John Sharp told The New Daily the expanded fleet would allow the airline to operate more flights, including potentially new services.

“The main game will be increasing frequency because we don’t have sufficient frequency on the routes that we currently operate. The demand for seats is very high,” Mr Sharp said.

Rex

A Rex Boeing 737-800NG. Photo: Regional Express Holdings

Where will the 737s fly?

Mr Sharp told TND the airline had been eyeing an expansion “further up the Queensland coast”.

“We have a very large regional network in Queensland, nearly 30 routes … We’ve got a very significant presence in the region so it makes a lot of sense to add some jet services to that network.”

He said the arrival of low-cost competitor Bonza and its operations out of its home base on the Sunshine Coast was not factoring into Rex’s decision-making process.

“Rex’s domestic jet services have been performing very strongly and have been profitable in the past four months,” he said.

“The travelling public has been crying out for our reliable and affordable services in the light of the shameless price gouging by Qantas, and these new additions will help to alleviate the situation.

“Qantas has constrained supply to push prices up … that’s purely designed to give them a sugar hit of profits in the immediate term.

“That’s really opened the door for Rex, because we operate with substantially lower ticket prices and we operate on time.”

In addition to its fleet of 737s, Rex operates 61 Saab 340s.

The carrier flies to 58 destinations across every major Australian territory.

Profitable returns

Rex’s commitment to expand comes after four consecutive profitable months, since operations resumed in February 2022.

In December, the airline’s Boeing 737 operations made a profit of $4 million, an improvement from $2.8 million in November and $1.9 million in October.

Aussie consumers will undoubtedly benefit from Rex’s expansion into new markets.

Competition between airlines was “one of the most important factors determining how much a consumer pays to fly”, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission noted in its December report.

The report noted that prices, on average, decrease when the number of airlines increases on a route.

The ACCC said such a trend had been observed following Rex’s expansion to routes that competed with Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Qantas from March 2021.

The 737-800

The Boeing 737 NG series is a popular variation of the ‘original’ 737 series.

NG, standing for ‘next generation’, come in four different models: -600, -700, -800 and -900.

The -800 is the most prolific 737 currently in operation and is regarded as a workhorse of the skies. It has a wider wingspan, and improved fuel capacity, range and higher maximum take-off weights.

According to reports, as of March last year, 17 per cent of all passenger planes in service worldwide were Boeing 737-800 NGs.

Mr Sharp said Rex had opted to expand its 737-800 fleet, rather than using a different plane, because the aircraft was a “consistent product”.

“It means that we have the same type of aircraft in our fleet so that when passengers get on, they know what to expect,” he said.

“It’s about consistency for the customer experience.”

Eyes to the horizon

Rex’s long-term aim was to continue to grow their domestic city business and expand their regional network, while also focusing on the growth of National Jet Express, a charter fly-in fly-out service, Mr Sharp said.

Rex finalised acquisition of National Jet Express from Cobham last year for $48 million.

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