Rex Suspends Sydney-Canberra Route

Rex Saab 340
Credit: Rex

Rex is pulling the plug on flights between Sydney (SYD) and Australia’s capital Canberra (CBR), blaming competition pressures and higher airport charges.

The airline, which launched the route in April last year as part of an expansion of its regional and domestic network, confirmed that service would end on May 29. The carrier operated the 147 km (237 mi.) sector up to 3X-daily using Saab 340 turboprops.

The route becomes the second to be axed by Rex in the past week after announcing that Albury (ABX)-Melbourne (MEL) would also cease on May 29. The airline cited “predatory” behavior by Qantas as the reason for ending that service.

In the Sydney-Canberra market—popular with business travelers and government officials—Rex competes with Virgin Australia and QantasLink. Virgin Australia offers 58X-weekly flights using Saab 340s, and QantasLink provides 117 flights per week using a mix of Boeing 717-200s and Dash 8-400s.

According to data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser, Qantas has a 77.7% seat capacity share between the destinations during the week commencing May 23, with Virgin Australia on 16.4% and Rex on 5.9%.

Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said he was proud that the airline was able to serve the Sydney-Canberra sector as part of its expansion into capital city trunk routes but claimed that higher airport charges at Sydney from June 1 meant flights were no longer viable.

“The resources will be diverted to other routes which will provide a better return,” he added. Impacted passengers will be offered free of charge rerouting or a refund.

Sharp said on May 19 that Rex was exiting Albury-Melbourne “with a heavy heart” after providing service for the past 39 years. However, he claimed that Qantas’ entry has added an additional 31,000 seats between the destinations per year when demand pre-pandemic was about 22,000 annual passengers.

Rex operates a fleet of 60 Saab 340s and six Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft. Earlier this month, the carrier signed a letter of intent to lease an additional 737-800 NG. It also announced plans to partner with Delta Air Lines, with an interline agreement set to start in the third quarter of 2022.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.