QantasLink CEO John Gissing has slammed Rex's comments that it abandoned its Bathurst-Sydney flights next month because of Qantas' "aggressive predatory" move into regional marks.
Mr Gissing claimed Rex deputy chairman John Sharp's comments on Monday morning was a "classic Rex tantrum" and that they think they "have an enshrined right to be the only carrier on some regional routes".
"It feels like Rex is trying to blame Qantas for other challenges they may be having. We don't start routes if we don't think they will be commercially viable for us.
"We know that extra capacity and lower fares increases overall travel demand, which is good news for the regional communities we will be operating to.
"We'll be reviewing our network and consider whether we can offer services on any of the routes that Rex is threatening to pull out of."
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic the Qantas Group has announced 26 new routes to reflect new travel demand patterns. Only eight are on routes that Rex currently operate and they remain the largest carrier on all of these routes.
Mr Gissing claimed Qantas only operates on one of the five routes Rex says it is exiting (Adelaide-Kangaroo Island).
"As distinct from Rex, Qantas has not been acquiring new aircraft types and setting up entirely new operations in the middle of a pandemic, while at the same time receiving (relatively to their pre-COVID revenue and earnings) large amounts of government support," he said.
"The majority of government support received by the Qantas Group went directly to its people who were literally grounded with no work, through JobKeeper. All other support, which was provided to all airlines, went towards maintaining critical passenger and freight connectivity, bringing stranded Australians back home and offsetting a range of government charges on the industry."
The Bathurst route, which attracted 20,000 passengers a year prior to COVID, is one of five marginal Rex routes to be discontinued, along with flights between Sydney and Cooma, Lismore and Grafton, and the Adelaide to Kangaroo Island route.
Rex will retain its Orange-Sydney flights for now, despite figures released this morning showing it attracted just 1017 passengers for the four weeks from January 17 to February 13, compared with the route's pre-COVID usage of 65,000 passengers a year.
Qantas began flying from Orange to Sydney in July last year.
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