Australia’s Regional Express (Rex) closed the missing link in its golden triangle ambitions on Monday, commencing flights on the Sydney – Brisbane sector. The first flight on the route sees Rex meet its previous promise of running jet services on the three lucrative triangle routes in Australia’s southeast.

Regional Express has commenced flights to Brisbane from Sydney and Melbourne. Photo: Regional Express

ZL352 pushed back at 15:15 Sydney time on Monday for the 468 mile (754 kilometer) hop north to the Queensland capital of Brisbane. Monday’s flight follows flights starting on the Melbourne – Brisbane city pair last Friday. Rex commenced flying on the third triangle route, Sydney – Melbourne, in March.

“Despite the obvious difficulties, I am extremely proud of what we have been able to achieve. It’s
always nice to prove the sceptics wrong, and the big plans we have for 2022 means next year
promises to be even more exciting,” said Rex’s Deputy Chairman, John Sharp.

How good’s a bargain 737 lease deal?

Rex is running two return services a day between Sydney and Brisbane (except for Saturday when a single daily return operates). Double daily return flights operate between Melbourne and Brisbane on Mondays and Tuesdays, with daily services across the rest of the week.

Rex’s frequency is constrained by the number of jets it has – just six. However, the airline plans to ramp up operations (and launch new routes) as more 737-800s land next year.

“There’s never been a better time in our memory to expand into the domestic jet service business,” Mr Sharp told a recent CAPA Asia-Pacific Aviation Summit when discussing Rex’s decision to branch out into jet operations last year.

“Almost overnight, there were thousands of aircraft that were readily available. There were lessors who own those aircraft, who were distressed, and who would be happy to accept any price for a lease payment on one of their aircraft that was pushed up against a fence. So we have really good lease rates.”

How good? Rex is rumored to have picked up each of their six former Virgin Australia Boeings at the bargain rate of AU$60,000 (US$42,700) per month for the first 12 months of their leases (the first of Rex’s jets are just coming up to their first birthday at the airline).

Passengers board Rex’s first Brisbane-bound Boeing 737 service. Photo: Regional Express

Rex’s jets return to the Gold Coast

It’s not just cut-price lease rates that encouraged Rex to seal the deal. An abundance of freshly retrenched airline industry employees on the market made it easy to pick up the necessary skilled employees.

“There were thousands and thousands of highly skilled qualified people that we could draw upon to grow our business. And so we decided to do that last year,” added Rex’s Deputy Chairman.

In addition to commencing Brisbane flights over the last few days, Rex has returned to the Gold Coast, resuming flights from Sydney and Melbourne on Friday. These two routes are normally among Australia’s top ten domestic routes, carrying around five million travelers annually.

Rex’s John Sharp (left) in Brisbane on Friday. Photo: Regional Express

Last week, Queensland reopened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers and stranded Queenslanders down in the southern states. Since then, flights out of the south have returned to Brisbane and Gold Coast Airports.

Brisbane Airport’s CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff says Rex’s jets landing there was a “clear demonstration” that airlines and their passengers have the confidence to return to Australia’s third-largest state.

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