Rex - Regional Express (ZL, Wagga Wagga) is cutting services across seven regional routes from October 30, 2023, blaming the major carriers, particularly Qantas Group, for "their relentless pillaging of Rex's pilot group."

In a statement released immediately before markets closed on September 22, Rex said service reductions would occur on the following Saab 340B and Saab 340B(Plus) operated routes:

In addition, Rex confirms it will permanently end services on the Cairns - Bamaga route and suspend services on the Sydney - Armidale route until at least March 30, 2024. Additional service cuts announced in April will remain in place, as does the suspension of flights on the Adelaide International - Mildura route.

Rex's fleet of 57 Saab (Sweden) turboprops fly to 55 destinations around Australia. The carrier's operation also includes a small but gradually growing network of capital city routes linked by B737-800 flights. Like many regional airlines, Rex has a constant problem with larger carriers poaching pilots.

"We prefer to reduce the scheduled services so that our passengers can be assured of fewer disruptions and more reliable services," said Warrick Lodge, Rex's General Manager of Network Strategy. "We intend to return to the standard flight schedules from March 31, 2024. However, this is subject to the situation improving."

It is understood that Rex has lost around 100 pilots in the past 14 months, of which 50 were Captains on the Saabs, with most going to the Qantas Group.

To combat the worldwide pilot shortage, Rex has operated its accredited pilot cadet program since 2007. The Australian Airline Pilot Academy (AAPA) is located at Rex's Wagga Wagga base. In May 2023, 16 cadet pilots graduated from the program, most becoming first officers on Rex's Saab aircraft. Rex also owns a pilot training academy located in Ballarat that primarily provides cadet pilot training for third-party customers.

Separately, Rex has confirmed that its ninth B737-800 ferried into Brisbane International on October 22 from Singapore Changi, where it underwent a scheduled heavy maintenance check and painting. The aircraft will bear the registration VH-8JS (msn 44218). The jet comes on lease from Singapore Airlines, having formerly flown for that carrier and SilkAir while bearing the registration 9V-MGB. Rex says VH-8JS will begin revenue operations in October.