Regional Express (Rex) is once again taking on Qantas by announcing new flights between Sydney and Canberra from 19 April.
With fares from just $99 one way, the airline plans to kick off the service with seven return flights a day, but may ramp it up to 10 a day if patronage is good.
Before COVID, the route attracted almost one million annual passengers, making it a big enough market for Rex and Qantas to share, but leaving enough room for healthy competition.
John Sharp, deputy chairman at Rex, said: “At a time when many small businesses and households are still struggling to make ends meet, our fares will make a world of difference to the community that routinely sees one-way fares close to $1,000 for this short sector.
“Rex has a war chest of $150 million funded by private equity for domestic services, and we will not be deterred in our goal of bringing safe reliable air services at affordable fares to all major cities in Australia.
“We believe that on the Sydney-Canberra route alone, Rex will be bringing annual savings of between $60 to $100 million to commuters when numbers return to pre-COVID levels, such is the level of fare gouging being practised.
“Rex’s affordable fares will greatly stimulate more business and leisure traffic between Sydney and the national capital as the industry continues to recover.”
The airline also announced it will have a lounge at Canberra airport, complementing its existing lounge in Sydney which will give way to a new, much larger lounge opposite Gate 49 in the coming months.
Canberra Airport CEO Stephen Byron said: “We are pleased to welcome Rex to Canberra, which is a positive sign they are making an investment in a growing and expanding region.
“This new Canberra-Sydney route will offer more choice for our travellers, stimulate jobs and grow the air travel market, which is a win-win for us all.”
Rex announced its expansion into major cities in June last year, signalling it was ready to take on Qantas and Virgin to unseat the two airline’s monopoly over the ‘Golden Triangle’ (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane).
The airline began flying between Sydney and Melbourne at the beginning of March with nine return services per day between the two state capitals.