Regional Express is planning to introduce new routes as well as increase services to country centres to support its new capital city services starting in autumn.
The airline will begin flying between Sydney and Melbourne on 1 March with a Sydney-Brisbane service scheduled for after Easter. It eventually hopes to have at least 10 Boeing 737-800 jets flying between five state capitals.
Rex deputy chairman John Sharp says passengers will benefit substantially from the introduction of the 737 services.
“Regional travellers will get a much better deal, and inter-city passengers [will] get a full-service offering at a budget airline price,” Mr Sharp told the Farm Online website last month.
“A fairly large number of our regional travellers already fly to Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane via connecting flights with other carriers, but they can now access much cheaper combined fares.
“It will be easier, too. Just one baggage check-in at Bathurst or Armidale and no more changing airport lounges in Sydney to catch a different airline flight to Melbourne.”.
Rex has new routes to Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, and Tamworth, and Geraldton in WA on the drawing board – as well as extra services to Albury and Mildura on the NSW-Victorian border.
Mr Sharp says he is confident Rex’s new intercity services will be profitable.
“We’ve already been competing with Qantas on regional routes for a hell of a long time, and we’re not frightened by a new challenge.”
In other aviation news, large regional airports are getting $66 million in Commonwealth funding to allay the costs of security screening compliance.
Grant funding from the Regional Airports Screening Infrastructure (RASI) program will also allow eligible regional airports – including Rockhampton, Townsville, Whyalla, Ayers Rock (Uluru), Ballina Byron and Broome – to carry out necessary infrastructure works in preparation for the full resumption of air service.
The grants were announced by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications shortly before Christmas.