|Commenced operations||August 2002|
|Parent company||Regional Express Holdings|
|Headquarters||Mascot, New South Wales, Australia|
Regional Express Pty. Ltd., trading as Rex Airlines (and as Regional Express on regional routes), is an Australian airline based in Mascot, New South Wales. It operates scheduled regional and domestic services. It is Australia's largest regional airline outside the Qantas group of companies and serves all 6 states across Australia.
The airline was established in 2002 when the Australiawide Airlines consortium (set up by former Ansett Australia employees) acquired Hazelton Airlines and Kendell Airlines, before merging the companies and starting operations as Rex in August 2002. In 2005, Australiawide Airlines was renamed Regional Express Holdings and partially floated on the Australian Securities Exchange. On 30 November 2005, Rex announced the acquisition of the Dubbo-based Air Link, another regional airline.
In October 2007, Rex expanded into Queensland when it commenced operations between Brisbane and Maryborough. This exacerbated an existing problem within the company of not having enough pilots to crew its flights (due to the expansion of larger airlines, especially Jetstar and Virgin Blue), and Rex suspended operations out of Brisbane (and from Sydney to Cooma during the summer "low season" for this route to the NSW ski fields) in November 2007. To provide a medium-term solution to the pilot shortage, Rex announced that it was establishing a cadet-pilot flight-training programme.
In November 2015, Rex announced the resumption of services to the NSW Snowy Mountains in conjunction with Snowy Mountains Airport Corporation, with the flights resuming in March 2016. In December 2015, Rex announced that it would be commencing operations in Western Australia in February the following year after being selected by the Government of Western Australia to be the operator of regulated RPT routes after a tender process. Initially operating between Perth to Albany and Esperance, in July 2018 the Western Australian operations expanded to include Carnarvon and Monkey Mia. It brought Rex's weekly flights to roughly 1,500 across 60 destinations.
Starting on 6 April 2020, Rex significantly scaled back all its regional services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing to only offer Government subsidised services within Queensland and Western Australia and one flight a week between all 54 regional and remote communities within its route network. Services including Adelaide to Port Augusta, Sydney to Newcastle and Sydney to Armidale were suspended.
In June 2020, Rex announced interest in expanding into the domestic airline market, with operations to commence in 2021 between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Rex leased six Boeing 737-800s previously leased by Virgin Australia to operate the new services, with the first delivered in November 2020. The first jet operations began on 1 March 2021 on the Melbourne to Sydney route. Also in June 2020, Rex announced that it had entered into a memorandum of understanding with ATR to explore options for replacing the Saab 340 fleet with ATR 42 and ATR 72 aircraft. Following the airline's launch of jet services in March 2021, Rex replaced the announced Brisbane jet services in early April with services to Adelaide and Gold Coast, with the start of services occurring between 29 March and 1 April.
Rex Airlines initially offered regional flights from various bases across Australia using turboprop aircraft, but in March 2021 began flying between its bases using jet aircraft, with flights between Melbourne and Sydney. Their current Domestic flights at the moment consists of destinations in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Gold Coast and Adelaide.
Rex Airlines has previously operated the following aircraft:
Rex operates the world's largest fleet of Saab 340 aircraft. The delivery of 25 ex-American Eagle Airlines Saab 340B Plus aircraft started in mid-2007 and enabled the expansion of services and the phase-out of the airline's Saab 340As, and some older B models. The 340B Plus has a quieter and more comfortable interior.
In July 2008 the company announced that all of its 340As would be phased out; however one rejoined the fleet in July 2015 after a 7-year stint with Rex's subsidiary airline Pel-Air and remains in service as of January 2020.
The airline also previously operated some Fairchild Metro 23 aircraft seating 19 passengers, but the aircraft were later phased out.
By October 2020, the airline operated an all-Saab 340 fleet with three variants of the type, though prior in the year during June 2020, Rex announced it was leasing six Boeing 737-800s with the first delivered in November 2020, and the further five to be delivered by March 2021 in order to begin operations with jet aircraft.
In November 2007, Regional Express Airlines and Mangalore Airport Pty Limited created a joint venture pilot academy called the Civil Aviation Training Academy, based at Mangalore Airport in Victoria. In April 2008, Regional Express Airlines fully acquired the Civil Aviation Training Academy and it was renamed to Australian Airline Pilot Academy.
On 18 February 2009, Regional Express Airlines announced that the Australian Airline Pilot Academy (AAPA) would be relocated from Mangalore Airport to Wagga Wagga Airport in partnership with the City of Wagga Wagga starting in April 2009.
On 27 May 2010, the AAPA campus at Wagga Wagga Airport was officially opened by Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese.
Media related to Rex Airlines at Wikimedia Commons