REX crowned Australian airline of the year
While Qantas dominates the news feeds for all the wrong reasons, Australia’s newest domestic airline, Rex, has won the Airline of the Year award.
The first Australian Aviation Awards were presented last week in Sydney, where Rex was declared Airline of the Year. Rex Chief Operating Officer Neville Howell accepted the award and gave special mention to the airline’s Executive Chairman, Lim Kim Hai, saying he had “guided us through some very rough waters. It’s been very, very difficult, and he knows as well as I do that you can’t do it on your own; you need good people.”
Rex wins the 2022 Australian Airline of the Year award. Photo: Rex
It’s the Rex team that makes the difference
Not neglecting any of Rex’s 1,650 employees, he added, “And we’re very lucky at Rex to have fantastic baggage handlers who don’t lose luggage, great crew and flight attendants, fantastic airport staff and the most wonderful people in administration, they’ve got us all helped through this difficult time.”
“So for them, this is for them, they did it for us and we are indebted to them for everything they did for this airline.”
Mentioning baggage handlers first seems like a very pointed reference to Qantas and its CEO Alan Joyce. Qantas is in the midst of a firestorm with the union which represents baggage handlers, even though the airline has outsourced baggage handling and around 2,000 jobs in 2020. The ongoing dispute is so bitter that the union has called for a strike for next Monday by its members working for Dnata, the porter who now serves Qantas.
It is the 7th Boeing B737-800 to join Rex’s domestic fleet, with two more to be added as soon as possible. Photo: Rex
Rex earned his stripes in regional Australia
Although Rex is a new entrant to the Australian domestic market, it has a long history of serving regional and rural towns across Australia. It was formed from the ashes of the collapse of Ansett Airlines in 2002 under the Regional Express banner, operating its first flight from Wagga Wagga Airport (WGA) in New South Wales to Sydney Airport Kingsford Smith (SYD). It has assembled the largest fleet of Saab 340 aircraft in the world, perfectly suited to the vast regional network it has built to connect rural communities to major centres.
The Saab 340B fleet forms the backbone of Rex’s regional turboprop operations. Photo: Regional Express/Rex
In 2020 it announced it was entering the core Australian domestic market, competing directly with Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia. It launched its first domestic flight in March 2021 between Melbourne and Sydney and now operates a fleet of seven Boeing B737-800s on routes to Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.
The Rex Group also owns Pel-Air Aviation, an air cargo, charter and aeromedical operator, and the Australian Airline Pilot Academy, which has campuses in Wagga Wagga and Ballarat, Victoria.
The Australian Aviation Awards are produced by Australian Aviation magazine with support from the University of New South Wales School of Aviation. There are 20 individual and group prizes, with winners selected from a short list of 118 finalists. In a great evening for regional aviation, Launceston Airport (LST) in Tasmania received the Airport of the Year award and Aviation Professional of the Year was awarded to the manager of Kestrel Aviation training, Richard Butterworth.
At the ceremony, Adam Thorn of Australian Aviation said that no country depends more on aviation than Australia, and it is a credit to the entire industry to have weathered the pandemic. “Our nominees and winners have done something even more special, they have thrived during the most difficult time in aviation history.”
Source: Australian Air Force