Regional airline operator Rex will begin flights between Canberra and Sydney from April, ending Qantas’s monopoly on the route and accusing the company of fare gouging.
Rex announced on Wednesday it would run seven flights between the cities a day from April 19 and would expand that to 10 if “patronage is good”.
The route has more than one million annual passengers and is popular among politicians and bureaucrats, but has been monopolised by Qantas during the pandemic.
The company’s deputy chairman John Sharp said Rex would help Canberrans avoid Qantas’s “fare gouging”, by offering cheap fares.
“We believe that on the Sydney to Canberra route alone Rex will be bringing annual saving of between $60 million and $100 million to commuters when numbers return to pre-COVID levels, such is the level of fare gouging being practiced,” he said.
“Rex’s affordable fares will greatly stimulate more business and leisure traffic between Sydney and the national capital as the industry continues to recover.”
Low fares promised
The airline announced it would undercut the national carrier by offering one-way fares below $100 and would also open a lounge at Canberra Airport.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the deal was a “vote of confidence” for Canberra.
“Growing aviation links into Canberra is a key priority for the ACT government,” Mr Barr said.
“The investment Rex is making is a vote of confidence in this city and we are delighted to be working closely with the airline and Canberra Airport through Visit Canberra to widely promote the new services and contribute to the growth of the route.”
Rex is Australia’s largest independent regional airline and operates a fleet of 60 twin-engine planes and four Boeing 737 aircraft.
Virgin halted flights between Canberra and Sydney in March 2020 as it tried to buffer the pandemic’s financial impact.