Statement from John Barilaro on regional airline routes

Deputy Premier

Today I feel for regional communities across NSW who have been caught in the crossfire and put at a potential disadvantage due to airline wars between Rex and Qantas.

Rex Airlines has today announced it will be revamping its regional route network due to Qantas encroaching on its regional routes, which historically, cannot viably support two airline carriers.

Qantas, the self-proclaimed ‘Spirit of Australia’, is the first to pull on our patriotic heartstrings but in the same breath sabotages a rival airline, failing to consider the long-term impact on regional communities who depend on vital air services for travel, freight and connectivity.

Rex in its DNA is a regional and rural airline, and it is doing its best to fill the gaps left by Virgin, while Qantas is trying to cripple Rex before it even gains a foothold in some regional markets.

Rex works with communities to identify routes which are profitable and subsequently makes informed decisions as to which routes need to be subsidised. Qantas seems motivated only by its own narrow commercial interest, not what is in the best interest of the community.

Throughout COVID, Qantas has received more than $1.2 billion in taxpayer subsidies. Their focus should be on servicing airline routes which have been lost, not trying to use the current economic climate to monopolise the market, by crippling a dedicated regional airline.

The Regional Airline Network Support (RANS) concludes next month and I am calling on the Federal Government to ensure that during the transition process, regional carriers are not forced to leave a single regional community behind.

I am also calling on the Federal Government to work with Sydney Airport to open up any landing slots that have been shelved by companies like Virgin and Tiger, and offer them to companies like Rex, which put regional communities first.

These routes will continue to be marginal for these airlines and the best thing they can do in this climate is work with each other to support regional NSW, not destroy the competition.

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