Qantas is confident its eight-flight service between Albury and Melbourne will be commercially viable, despite its rival transporting an average of just nine passengers per flight this summer.
Rex's deputy chairman John Sharp described the airline's current monthly passenger numbers as 'laughable' and said Qantas was undertaking 'predatory behaviour' by launching services on a number of routes previously only flown by Rex, including Melbourne to Albury.
Qantaslink chief executive John Gissing said the company doesn't "start routes if we don't think they will be commercially viable for us", highlighting the increased competition would benefit regional communities.
"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," he said.
Currently Rex is offering one-way direct flights to Melbourne for between $98.85 and $148.35. Qantas will be offering a special fare of $125 one-way until sold out. The company has not specified what the regular rate will be.
Figures released to the Australian Stock Exchange by Rex reveal just 210 passengers flew between Melbourne and Albury in the four weeks from January 17 to February 13.
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On average, Rex runs three return services, a total of six flights, every week on the route meaning each flight contained an average of 8.75 passengers.
Rex has not confirmed whether services ran as normal during that period.
Prior to COVID, Rex says, 22,000 passengers flew on the route annually an average of 423 people a week.
Mr Sharp said even when passenger numbers returned to a pre-COVID level, the regional routes where Qantas was launching services could only support one carrier.
He said Qantas' expansion was "an attempt to intimidate and damage Rex in its traditional regional market."
Mr Gissing accused the regional airline of throwing a "classic Rex tantrum".
Qantas flights between Albury and Melbourne begin on March 28. The service is offering eight flights between the two cities with 50 seats per flight or 400 seats per week on the route.
Mr Sharp said Rex would stand its ground and continue operating on the eight regional routes Qantas is starting services on "even if inevitably both carriers will be making significant losses."
Five other routes will be ceased.
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