21/04/2020 - 10:51

Federal funding for Rex

21/04/2020 - 10:51

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Australian airline Regional Express (Rex) has been guaranteed at least one return service per week to most of its 59 destinations under the federal government’s regional airline support program.

Federal funding for Rex
Rex is guaranteed at least one return service per week to most destinations on the airline’s network.

Australian airline Regional Express (Rex) has been guaranteed at least one return service per week to most of its 59 destinations under the federal government’s regional airline support program.

The COVID-19 Regional Airline Network Support (RANS) program, announced by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack in March, will run for six months and ensure regional airline carriers maintain a minimum weekly schedule to regional and remote ports in Australia.

The federal government last week released revised program guidelines, which are set to increase the number of funded services to some regional ports.

Under the RANS program, Rex will receive a maximum of two return services per week to most destinations on the airline’s network for up to six months.

Before the pandemic, the airline was operating around 1,500 weekly flights throughout all states in Australia.

Rex today said it had submitted a revised request to the government, which, if approved would allow the airline to operate up to three weekly return services for some ports, including Albany, Esperance and Carnarvon.

The Western Australian, South Australian and Queensland governments have also committed to funding extra services in addition to the RANS program.

Details of the extra funding will be released once confirmed, Rex says.

Deputy chairman John Sharp said the RANS program will ensure regional Australia receives minimal air links to capital cities for medical, professional and educational needs.

“Without this intervention, many smaller regional communities would risk not having any air services at all for at least six months,” he said.

“Never before has regional Australia been faced with such a massive and sudden threat.

“Regional Australia is very fortunate to have a government which places the highest national priority in ensuring the regional socio-economic fabric is not permanently destroyed by this national emergency.”

Mr Sharp said the funding had given regional airlines a chance to see through the coronavirus pandemic.

The news comes as Virgin Australia confirmed it had entered voluntary administration, following weeks of speculation.

The airline was left with a $5 billion debt after its domestic and international operations were hit with coronavirus travel restrictions.

The decision to enter administration comes after Virgin shareholders voted against further financial support from the federal government.

Virgin boss Paul Scurrah says the airline, which has operated in Australia for more than 20 years, contributes around $11 billion to the national economy each year.

It employs 10,000 people and supports 6,000 indirect jobs.

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