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The right thing to do: Rex grapples with network woes, extends reductions through October 

Rex’s existing network reductions, which were put in place at various points in 2023, will go on until at least 27 October 2024, the airline has announced.

Rex’s existing network reductions, which were put in place at various points in 2023, will go on until at least 27 October 2024, the airline has announced.

The carrier says the regional reductions are the result of continuing disruptions to its supply chain since the COVID pandemic. 

These relate specifically to the provision of plane spare parts, especially engine components. 

From May 2023, Rex cut back flights on nine regional routes across four states. In September, it announced another major network decrease, impacting Sydney services only.

General Manager of Network Strategy, Warrick Lodge said the airline chose to reduce services rather than “unconscionably” sell phantom flights. 

Aerial shot of a new Rex Boeing 787-800NG aircraft in Brisbane
A B787-800NG aircraft in Brisbane.

“As we have stated previously, Rex prefers to reduce services if it does not have the resources to fly them rather than continue to sell tickets for phantom flights and then cancelling them at the last minute,” he explained. 

“Rex finds such deliberate last-minute cancellations to be unconscionable as a cancelled flight can bring about untold hardships to the affected parties including having money tied down for months if indeed the refunds materialise.”

Last year, Qantas was forced to defend itself in Federal Court in response to claims by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that it had sold phantom, or “ghost flights” to customers.

“Rex never cancels a flight last-minute for expediency or for cash flow purposes or to hoard airport slots and this explains why Rex’s cancellation rate is 600 per cent to 1,000 per cent lower than its two larger competitors,” Lodge said.

“Rex is committed to the rebuilding of its regional network and intends to return to the standard flight schedules from 27 October 2024, subject to the situation improving.”

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The Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE)’s monthly on-time performance report showed Rex cancelled less than one per cent (0.6 per cent) of 5,500 scheduled flights for December, with the airline claiming to be the most punctual and reliable Australian airline of 2023.  

In January, the Australian Travel Industry Association (ATIA) released a report on the impact of flight cancellations and delays on the travel industry. Two in five (40 per cent) respondents in a major study by CHOICE said they experienced cancelled or delayed flights in 2023.

After introducing its Rex Flyer loyalty rewards program in October 2023, the carrier unveiled the second phase of the program’s staggered rollout, which allows members to use their points to redeem flights.