AVIATION company Rex Airlines (Regional Express) will commence direct flights between Coffs Harbour and Sydney from Sunday 28 March, offering Coffs Harbour passengers more choice on the region’s busiest air route.
The company recently removed its services from five regional routes, including Grafton and Lismore airports.
The move by Rex is in response to “aggressive predatory moves by Qantas into thin regional routes serviced by Rex”.
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“Qantas has clearly embarked on a deliberate strategy of moving into Rex’s routes that can only support one regional carrier in an attempt to intimidate and damage Rex in its traditional regional market, hoping the Rex would be a less formidable competitor in the domestic market,” Rex Deputy Chairman John Sharp stated.
“Rex will, from April, commence new services to ports where Virgin Australia has retreated, leaving Qantas as the sole or dominant operator.
“The new services are from Sydney to Coffs Harbour (330,000 passengers pre-COVID), Port Macquarie (190,000 passengers pre-COVID).”
Rex will initially offer three daily return services from Monday to Friday, and eighteen return services in total for the week using a SAAB 340 twin-engine turboprop aircraft.
This translates to almost 1,300 additional seats a week, or more than 60,000 seats a year into the region.
Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight said the announcement was a significant boost for the region as the Airport worked to rebuild capacity.
“This is another round of fabulous news for our region and another vote of confidence in Coffs Harbour Airport,” Cr Knight said.
“Both Council and Palisades Investment Partners are focused on seeing passenger numbers return to pre COVID-19 levels as soon as possible.
“I’m delighted to welcome Rex back to the airport with these great new services.”
CEO of the management company that will oversee Coffs Harbour Airport, Andrew Brodie, said his team was delighted to work with Rex and Coffs Harbour City Council to offer passengers more choice and more frequency for travel between Coffs Harbour and Sydney.
“We believe by building more connections and supporting growth, Coffs Harbour Airport will play a critical role in helping the region recover from COVID-19 and reach its potential as a vibrant hub,” Mr Brodie said.
“The Rex services provide more choice and frequency for passengers travelling between Sydney and Coffs, and will provide a boost to the growing business travel market and for those keen to connect with family and friends.
“The extra flights are great news for the local tourism industry too, giving more Sydneysiders the opportunity to explore everything the Coffs Coast region offers.”
Rex’s General Manager Network Strategy Warrick Lodge said, “Finally the residents of Coffs Harbour can have access to reliable services at affordable fares.
“Rex will be bringing its coveted Community Fare Scheme to the city with a lead-in fare of $119,” Mr Lodge said.
“Fares are now on sale on our website.
“If our services are well-supported with over 40,000 annual passengers, we will add a fourth daily return on weekdays which will bring significant socio-economic benefits to the region.”
Rex is Australia’s largest independent regional and domestic airline, operating 1,500 weekly flights to 60 destinations throughout Australia.
By Emma DARBIN