Australia’s friendly regional airline is Rex – Regional Express. The airline emerged from the ashes of Ansett’s bankruptcy in 2001. Ansett’s regional subsidiaries Kendall Airlines and Hazelton Airlines were acquired by ex-Ansett employees and merged to form Rex in August 2002. The head office is in Wagga Wagga in NSW and following a shortage of available pilots they helped form the Australian Airline Pilot Academy which moved from Mangalore, Victoria to Wagga Wagga in 2009. Rex operates a sizeable fleet of Swedish built Saab 340’s and its corporate jet arm RexJet will source any small jet the client wants. Rex inherited non-Saab’s which they replaced. Rex concentrates on linking regional centres in Australia’s eastern states to capital cities, often in competition with Qantas and Virgin Australia. Rex listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2005 and remains profitable. Its largest shareholders are Singaporean. In 2012 while Qantas spiralled into debt, Rex came out on top as Australia's most profitable airline.
Rex has a good reputation for providing friendly country service. As planes are small flight attendants have time to chat with passengers and provide extra service and coffee refills. A welcome touch which passengers enjoy is being welcomed aboard by the pilot who often stands at the stairs as passengers join the flight. Rex is simply too small and personal to be snobby and their no-nonsense country custmers wouldn’t tolerate it anyway.
Rex operates around 50 aircraft and serves a comprehensive network of often small regional centres. In NSW, Victoria and South Australia Rex as an elaborate network linking rural airports to state capitals and they also offer many services branching out from Townsville in North Queensland. Rex has one route joining Tasmania to Melbourne. By operating smaller aircraft they are able to fly to centres that unprofitable for larger airlines.
Rex is seldom the cheapest choice but often has the best timetable and offers the best flying experience. Passengers with long memories recall how Qantas took advantage of their market dominance following Ansett’s demise by charging exorbitant fares to country folk who had no choice. Rex typically fly more frequently than their cheaper competitors like Jetstar or Virgin Australia.
Rex flights are typically short so the airlines meal service, which is free, reflects the flight time. Tea and coffee are served with snacks, rolls or wraps and water. Alcohol is available for a charge and crew usually top up drinks if time permits. Considering the size of the aircraft and shortness of the flight, Rex’s catering is a very nice touch.
Rex’s Saab’s do not have any inbuilt entertainment systems, however there is the airlines inflight magazine and the views of country outside out the window.
Rex provides friendly ground services and baggage allowances are not enforced strictly. As the planes are small, freight capacity is limited so the airline is vigilant with regards to carry on luggage. Checking in on Rex is stress free and comes as a welcome change from the often stressful experience passengers encounter at the large Australian airlines.
Rex’s Saab fleet is single class but the airline does have its own Rex Lounges at Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Their lounges are pleasantly appointed are very affordable for frequent travelers. While Rex is economy, RexJet is practically entirely First Class. RexJet will literally source any jet the customer wants or needs and the service is popular with rock stars and mining executives alike.
Rex is a one class airline. It pays to check their website regularly for special airfares which can be competitive. Flight times can be longer than rivals flying jets and also jet aircraft tend to have less turbulance because they fly at a higher altitude. However a Rex flight is a pleasant experience while flying Jetstar or others you are just a number.
Rex did have a frequent flyer programme called Rex Flyer which is currently being reorganized and is not open to new members.
Rex is well managed by staff who appreciate the value of good staff relations and the necessity to provide consistently high service to their customers. Many Australian airlines have crashed and burned by being too ambitious, management is cautious and level headed in their business strategy. Wagga Wagga is proud to have Rex choose their city for their head office.
Rex has spotless record and takes aircraft maintenance and safety seriously. As the airline has almost 50 aircraft they typically have extra planes up their sleeve if they need to put one into service, while other airlines with tighter schedules might be tempted to continue flying.
Rex is Australia’s friendliest airline with its heart firmly in the country. Rex is a great way to begin or end any trip.
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