Australia’s Rex signs for its first six jets

The world’s largest Saab 340 operator is set to enter the jet market for the first time following the procurement of six turbofan aircraft 

Mascot-based Regional Express Airlines has signed letters of intent with two aircraft lessors for the lease of six Boeing 737-800 examples. 

The first airframe is due for delivery on November 1 with the remaining five being phased in over the next four months. 

Rex S340
Rex is the world's largest Saab 340 operator. Aviation Image Network/Bailey

John Sharp, Rex’s deputy chairman, said: “Today I am pleased to announce that we have selected the Boeing 737-800 NG as the aircraft for our domestic jet operations. These aircraft are well received by passengers and have proven to be very suitable for operations in Australia.” 

The carrier expects the first three jets to be deployed from March 1, 2021, on the Sydney-Melbourne route, with another two due to come online “before Easter”. 

From there, Rex expects to continue to grow its domestic fleet in line with the return of passenger demand and hopes to see its roster of 737-800s reach ten by the end of next year. 

Prior to the pandemic, Rex operated more than 1,500 weekly flights to 59 destinations. Aviation Image Network/Bailey

Sharp added: “The signing of these letters marks another significant milestone for our entry into the domestic jet market. Our preparations are progressing very well and on schedule and we hope to obtain regulatory approval by December. Advanced ticket sales are also envisaged for December, subject to regulatory approval.” 

The move into the jet market comes shortly after the Australian carrier signed a long-form term sheet with investment firm PAG Asia Capital, who are entirely funding its domestic jet operations. 

Rex is the country’s largest independent regional airlines and currently fields a fleet comprising 44 Saab 340 examples.