Skift Take

The competition for pilots is intense although Regional Express didn't provide proof to back up its allegations.

Australian airline Regional Express on Friday suspended more flights from Sydney and accused competitors such as Qantas Airways of “pillaging” its regional pilots, allegations which the flag carrier dismissed.

A spokesperson for Qantas told Reuters that the company “rubbishes such claims”.

Rex said it is “forced” to make such reductions, cutting regional routes between Sydney and a number of towns in New South Wales.

The affected routes require SAAB-340 twin-engine pilots, with whom the regional carrier had found itself embroiled in a labour dispute following a rejected pay proposal in 2022.

In April, the regional airline had reduced or changed flight times for nine services across four states, including routes between Sydney and Broken Hill, Melbourne and Wagga Wagga, and Adelaide and Port Lincoln.

The affected operations will return to normal by the end of March 2024 if the situation improves, Rex said.

Rex has a history of accusing Qantas, with its deputy chairman once saying Qantas acts like a “bully” towards smaller aviation players and questioned the pay packet of its outgoing chief executive, Alan Joyce.

While updating the market on plans to launch a new regional route to Melbourne, Rex in June 2022 slammed Qantas, saying the country’s flag carrier was engaging in “price gouging” in domestic routes.

Rex is also, for the time being, halting services between Sydney and Armidale until the end of March next year.

Rex also said the routes it cancelled earlier in the year, along with its Adelaide-Mildura operation, would remain suspended for at least another five months.

Rex held a market share of 4.8% in April, according to a report by the country’s competition regulator, meager compared with the 60.8% and 33.2% share controlled by Qantas and Virgin Australia, respectively.

(Reporting by Rishav Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

This article was written by Rishav Chatterjee from Reuters and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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Tags: australia, pilot shortage, pilots, qantas, regional airlines

Photo credit: Qantas Boeing 737s taxi at Kingsford Smith International Airport in Sydney, Australia. Source: Reuters

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