REX Currently Sees Demand At 60% Of Pre-Pandemic Levels

Australia’s Regional Express (Rex) is reporting patchy demand across its network, averaging 60% of pre-pandemic levels. But there…

REX Currently Sees Demand At 60% Of Pre-Pandemic Levels

Australia’s Regional Express (Rex) is reporting patchy demand across its network, averaging 60% of pre-pandemic levels. But there are bright spots. Demand in Queensland is exceeding 2019 levels. Overall, Rex is confident it will break even in the 12 months to June 30, 2021.

Rex says demand for its regional services is up to 60% of pre-pandemic levels. Photo: Andrew Curran / Simple Flying

Operational update from Rex

On Monday, Rex provided an update on its operations. These days, Rex is best known for challenging Qantas and Virgin Australia on revenue-rich interstate trunk routes such as the Sydney and Melbourne route. But the airline’s longstanding core business is regional flying across much of Australia using a fleet of Saab 340s.

“Rex is cautiously expanding its regional network in an effort to stimulate demand. We are keeping our capacity growth about 5% ahead of demand growth,” the airline said on Monday. “Rex’s regional capacity is therefore 35% of what it was pre-COVID.”

Rex’s regional flights reach into all states and territories except the Northern Territory. Those flights include some interesting government-subsidized milk runs through Queensland.

While Rex has been happy to take it up to players like Qantas, stepping onto their turf flying Boeing 737-800s on key interstate trunk routes, Rex is less happy when Qantas returns the favor. Through its regional brand QantasLink, Qantas has made big inroads into regional flying in the last year, including onto routes Rex has previously enjoyed a monopoly on.

Rex’s regional network. Source: Rex

Some support for Rex’s anti-Qantas stance

In the last 12 months, Qantas has started services on eight regional routes previously the sole domain of Rex. Last week, Qantas further upped the ante, announcing QantasLink flights between Melbourne and Burnie (a port town in northern Tasmania).

Passengers generally welcome the competition and the downward pressure on fares it brings. But Rex is furious, saying these routes cannot support two airlines. Rex says Qantas’ move is about forcing a smaller player out of the market. Qantas says this isn’t the case, and Rex simply doesn’t handle competition well.

However, Rex’s argument does have some supporters. Some local business bodies have queried Qantas’ move into Burnie. Business Northwest’s tourism spokesman Justin McErlain told Burnie’s The Examiner newspaper he had questions over the airline’s commitment to the town. While the competition would bring fares down, Mr McErlain asked how long Qantas would stick around if they forced Rex out.

“We need to know if they are in it for the long haul or not,” Mr McErlain said. “We don’t want to end up in six months without an airline.”

Earlier this month, Max Hazelton, an old school airline operator who started Rex’s predecessor airline in a paddock outside Orange (New South Wales) 68 years ago, told The Australian newspaper Qantas had some form in this regard.

“Everywhere we went, like Armidale and Tamworth, it was working quite well, but then Qantas came in, cut the fares considerably, and basically killed us,” said Mr Hazelton.

“They were fair old buggers doing that. Anywhere we went, they would cut the fares. That is the battle we had. Taking on the big boys like that is a very difficult situation.”

Qantas is taking on Rex with new services to the northern Tasmanian town of Burnie (pictured). Photo: Gary Houston via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t feel too sorry for Rex

Qantas says it doesn’t startup new routes unless it thinks they’ll be profitable. The airline notes extra capacity on routes generally stimulates demand. Earlier this year, a senior Qantas executive called Rex’s protests a “classic Rex tantrum.

On the same day Rex provided its operating update, they welcomed a move by competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), to look at capacity dumping on regional and interstate routes in Australia.

Don’t feel too sorry for Rex. Behind the folksy facade are some pretty sharp airline operators. As for busting onto regional routes that previously belonged to other airlines, Rex has started flying between Sydney and Coffs Harbour and Sydney and Port Macquarie. These are routes QantasLink has previously dominated. To date, Qantas has taken this on the chin without complaint. For the record, Qantas has always said it welcomes competition.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Air Tahiti Nui’s Dreamliner To Resume Los Angeles Paris Flights

With French Polynesia relaxing some entry restrictions, local airline Air Tahiti Nui has resumed its flagship Dreamliner services…

Air Tahiti Nui’s Dreamliner To Resume Los Angeles Paris Flights

With French Polynesia relaxing some entry restrictions, local airline Air Tahiti Nui has resumed its flagship Dreamliner services between Papeete and Los Angeles. The four times a week services restarted on May 2. While flights through to Paris via Los Angeles have not yet resumed, Air Tahiti Nui is eyeing resuming those services in early June.

Air Tahiti Nui is back to flying four times a week between Papeete and Los Angeles. Photo: Air Tahiti Nui

French Polynesia tentatively re-opens to travelers from the United States

With the country having done a good job combatting COVID-19 and the vaccination rollout well underway, French Polynesia is beginning to roll out the welcome mat for overseas travelers. Tahiti re-opened to flights from the USA on May 1. That prompted Air Tahiti Nui to resume their flights to Los Angeles.

That said, it isn’t open slather. Travelers will need to arrive with a COVID-19 CDC vaccination certificate. Passengers have to upload that certificate to French Polynesian health authorities before traveling to Tahiti. In addition, only residents of French Polynesia and people who have spent at least the last 30 days in the United States before traveling will be allowed to fly.

Throughout May, Air Tahiti Nui’s fleet of Boeing 787-9s will jet back and forth between Papeete and Los Angeles four times a week. Flights will depart Papeete’s Faa’a International Airport at 08:20 local time on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. The eight-hour flight lands in Los Angeles at 21:30 the same day.

After a two-hour turnaround, Air Tahiti Nui’s Dreamliners push back from LAX at 23:55 local time on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings. After flying through the night, the plane will touch down at 05:05 on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday mornings.

Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner approaching Los Angeles Airport. Photo: Vincenzo Pace/Simple Flying

Air Tahiti Nui eyes Paris flights in June

In June, the frequencies increase to daily with some alterations in flight departure and arrival times. The changes coincide with Air Tahiti Nui’s planned resumption of services through to Paris. From June 3, the airline is targeting Paris with six return services a week.

Those flights will depart LAX at 13:30 local time daily except Tuesday. The Air Tahiti Nui Dreamliners will head through the night. The flights will land in Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport at 09:05 the following morning.

After a three-hour refresh, the Dreamliners will depart Paris at 12:05 local time daily except Tuesday and head back to Los Angeles, landing there later that day. Those flights will then continue onto Papeete.

The airline is also scheduling twice-weekly flights between Papeete and Auckland and Papeete and Tokyo Narita later this year.

Air Tahiti Nui plans to resume flying to Paris in June. Photo: Air Tahiti Nui

Some modifications to the Air Tahiti Nui inflight experience

Of course, all this hangs on the continued success of the vaccination rollout, not just in French Polynesia but elsewhere. The flights are also contingent on the respective governments allowing relatively easy travel.

As with most other airlines, there’s a new normal onboard Air Tahiti Nui flights. For flights to and from the United States, masks remain mandatory onboard for the entire duration of the flights for all passengers above the age of two. For all other Air Tahiti Nui flights, children under 11 are exempt from wearing face masks.

Air Tahiti Nui has also made some changes to its inflight offering. The airline says;

The onboard catering offer has been simplified to limit contact. The aperitif and meal services are combined. Meals are provided in a single passage in all travel classes and concentrated in a single tray service, including desserts for business class. The choice of wines and drinks is also reduced with the same purpose – limiting interactions and serving time.

“For the same purpose, the magazines onboard are removed, excluding the safety sheet, modified for single use only. However, passengers can view a selection of press and magazines, in-flight magazines, and meal service menus on our onboard entertainment system.”

For premium cabin passengers and Air Tahiti Nui’s best customers, lounge access in Papeete and Los Angeles remains off the books.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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