Aviation

Rex to acquire leading fly-in fly-out airline

Rex has signed an agreement to acquire National Jet Express, the regional services arm of Cobham Aviation Services Australia.

NJE is the leading provider of fly-in fly-out services in Western Australia and South Australia and operates freight services from Sydney to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and the Gold Coast, as well as charter services to Papua New Guinea.

Regional Express (Rex)’s subsidiary Rex Freight and Charter has signed a sale and purchase agreement to acquire Cobham for $48 million.

According to a release from Rex, the finding will be provided by drawing down an additional $15 million under its convertible note facility with PAG and from its own cash resources to find 50 per cent of the purchase price.

The remaining 50 per cent will be provided by joint venture partners, one of whom is Rex’s chairman, who will be funding their 50 per cent share with private funds.

Rex’s executive chairman, Lim Kim Hai said FIFO services are expected to experience strong growth in Australia and this acquisition positions the Rex Group to participate in this booming sector.

“With this acquisition, Rex will have a FIFO arm that is simply unparalleled in Australia,” Hai said.

“NJE has a completely modern fleet comprising eight Bombardier Q400 turboprops and six Embraer E190 jets for FIFO work. Both aircraft types are fuel efficient, have enhanced operational reliability and low carbon emissions when compared with the predominantly 40-year-old Fokker 100s used by the other major FIFO operators.

“I believe that NJE’s modern aircraft fleet and its long-term customer relationships overlayed with Rex’s proven record of safety, reliability and cost efficiencies would propel NJE to be the premier FIFO operator in Australia.

“NJE will naturally be the partner of choice for resources companies all over Australia who have been crying out for so long for a FIFO provider that is able to address their triple priorities of minimal impact on the environment, comfort and safety of its staff and reliability of service.

“The joint venture will invest in modern aircraft and technology to enable NJE to expand from its traditional base of WA and SA and bring our unique brand of FIFO services also to Queensland and Northern Territory.”

The sale will be subject to regulatory approvals.

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