Rex wins licence for Roma/Charleville flights

Mattg

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Rex has won the QLD government contract in a competitive tender process to service the route from Brisbane to Roma and Charleville from 1 January 2022, for a period of 5 years. Rex will take over the route from QantasLink.

Rex has so far retained all its other QLD government "milk run" routes, and the contract for flights between Brisbane and Barcaldine, Blackall & Longreach (currently held by QantasLink) has not yet been awarded for 2022.


Interestingly, the Charleville mayor was complaining in the media about QantasLink providing poor service to his town a few months ago. Looks like he'll get his wish.

 

servicerequired

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These regional Councillors complaining about QF cutting flights back to 4 days per week - during a pandemic - have rocks in their head.

I am certain that there would be a stipulation in the contract on these routes around the scheduling and volume of flights.

Rex provides a very decent service with their SAAB fleet - particularly to low volume ports - but beware, the friendly regional brand is no less interested in maintaining profitable and sustainable routes, just like their competitors.

I make reference in particular to their services to and from Broken Hill as an example.

The advantages to any community with a QF service is comparable to a single lane highway into your town, or a freeway! You've gone from smooth and efficient transfers, directly to the terminal gate - an extensive domestic network, lounges and loyalty programs - and whether we like their terminology or not, QF are the national carrier ...

... absolute madness! But, a competitive tender process, therefore the best man has won on this occasion, and the Rex offering must tick all of the boxes that the Government requires on these routes.
 

jb747

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I wonder how these contracts work. You’d expect the government to be paying Rex to have the services, as that’s the only way they could have any real impact upon how they’re run.
 

BRIS_VA_HAWK

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They can’t. The route is operated under licence and only one operator is allowed to serve it.
Fair enough. I've done Brisbane-Roma previously and the outbound leg (which was going on to Charleville) had the announcement from the FA about it being supported by the QLD Government, whereas the return leg was Roma-Brisbane direct and had an ex-Charleville service following it about 30 minutes later, and didn't have the announcement. Having said that, with the small population in Roma (6,848 in the 2016 Census) it makes sense.
 

docjames

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... absolute madness! But, a competitive tender process, therefore the best man has won on this occasion, and the Rex offering must tick all of the boxes that the Government requires on these routes.
Would be fascinating to know the minimum requirements (? Buried in a government tender document or parliamentary report down the track somewhere) but suspect focus is more on capacity (seats), frequency (days per week / flights per day) and cost (ie. amount the government has to subsidise) more so than connectivity to international/domestic flights on other carriers.
 
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jakeseven7

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These regional Councillors complaining about QF cutting flights back to 4 days per week - during a pandemic - have rocks in their head.

I am certain that there would be a stipulation in the contract on these routes around the scheduling and volume of flights.

Rex provides a very decent service with their SAAB fleet - particularly to low volume ports - but beware, the friendly regional brand is no less interested in maintaining profitable and sustainable routes, just like their competitors.

I make reference in particular to their services to and from Broken Hill as an example.

The advantages to any community with a QF service is comparable to a single lane highway into your town, or a freeway! You've gone from smooth and efficient transfers, directly to the terminal gate - an extensive domestic network, lounges and loyalty programs - and whether we like their terminology or not, QF are the national carrier ...

... absolute madness! But, a competitive tender process, therefore the best man has won on this occasion, and the Rex offering must tick all of the boxes that the Government requires on these routes.

Our regional QLD team are quite annoyed by this switch too. Complicates our travel arrangements.
 

equus

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with the small population in Roma (6,848
Things are not necessarily just about population - what else is happening in the area is extremely relevant.

Going back a few years, there was enormous activity drilling for gas and building pipelines in the area - made for huge amounts of flow of workers. Development continues, but not at nearly the same pace, so actual demand will have dropped off. (To illustrate the big spike in demand that occurred - look at the current Roma airport compared to what it was like 20 years ago).

There was probably a time when the route (at least to Roma) was quite attractive for QF, as in addition to the subsidy, there was a great deal more demand than normal. Probably fallen away now, and so less attractive, leading to a less competitive tender. QF also no doubt looking at the alternative uses for the Dash-8s they have been using on those routes. Limited numbers of them, and they have been using them all over the place with the lower density flights. They probably prefer the flexibility of not being tied to having to serve the route jsut because of a marginal government contract.
 
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I had a phone conversation with the Mayor of Murweh Shire (Charleville) about this today and he was delighted with the outcome. He just wanted closure and a decision.

Among other things, he talked about the need for frequencies and same-day returns to get medicos into Charleville and locals in and out of BNE quickly for medical appointments.

Interestingly, he was full of praise for Qld Transport Minister Mark Bailey - the first time in a long time I've heard anyone praise the QLD gov.

Rex is also super keen to grab the subsidized route in Longreach but no guarantee that will happen.
 

Happy Dude

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Things are not necessarily just about population - what else is happening in the area is extremely relevant.

Going back a few years, there was enormous activity drilling for gas and building pipelines in the area - made for huge amounts of flow of workers. Development continues, but not at nearly the same pace, so actual demand will have dropped off. (To illustrate the big spike in demand that occurred - look at the current Roma airport compared to what it was like 20 years ago).

There was probably a time when the route (at least to Roma) was quite attractive for QF, as in addition to the subsidy, there was a great deal more demand than normal. Probably fallen away now, and so less attractive, leading to a less competitive tender. QF also no doubt looking at the alternative uses for the Dash-8s they have been using on those routes. Limited numbers of them, and they have been using them all over the place with the lower density flights. They probably prefer the flexibility of not being tied to having to serve the route jsut because of a marginal government contract.
I worked on many gas projects out there. Flights were always chockers and often getting accommodation and a hire car was difficult and always silly prices. Weed inspections at $90 a pop. Coming from CBR I had to o/n at BNE airport hotel to be able to get the early flight out there. The hotel restaurant was always full of workers like me, one to a table and head in a device. It was clearly very lucrative for many in the chain.

The work has changed out there now and there's nowhere near as much activity, which would lead to QF being a lot less interested. Interesting to see how Rex goes but presumably being heavily subsidised it'd be hard to lose money.
 

Mattg

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Are these routes actually subsidised? As I understand it, the licence gives the airline a guaranteed monopoly in exchange for some sort of minimum service guarantee. But is any money actually changing hands between the airline and the state government?

I can see that some regional flights were underwritten by the QLD government during covid, but not sure if this was due to covid or a standard part of operating a regulated route.
 
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Stevo.1702

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I used to frequent this route in 2017-2018 and really appreciated the regular schedule. Flights were often well-populated but can't recall them ever selling out online.
The morning departure was often tricky to connect to and there wasn't always an afternoon service.

A slight delay once when starting early in TSV I received an airside chauffeur service from my arrival gate in BNE to the door of the waiting Q400. No PM service that day and QF obviously didn't want to pay for a night's accommodation.

The transfer was a clapped-out Toyota Yaris.
 

Happy Dude

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Are these routes actually subsidised? As I understand it, the licence gives the airline a guaranteed monopoly in exchange for some sort of minimum service guarantee. But is any money actually changing hands between the airline and the state government?

I can see that some regional flights were underwritten by the QLD government during covid, but not sure if this was due to covid or a standard part of operating a regulated route.
This ABC article states the flights are subsidised, in the header and the text. I suppose monopoly protection could be considered a form of subsidy but if Rex are promising not to cancel flights due to low loads, it's an indication that flights are supported by gov payment.

 

Mattg

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This ABC article states the flights are subsidised, in the header and the text. I suppose monopoly protection could be considered a form of subsidy but if Rex are promising not to cancel flights due to low loads, it's an indication that flights are supported by gov payment.


It would be interesting to see what the specific terms of the agreement are.

If the route is subsidised (i.e. the government funds or underwrites the flights), why did QantasLink cut its CTL schedule back to two flights per week?
 

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