Rex to Break Canberra-Melbourne Duopoly

Rex 737s and Saab 340 at Sydney Airport
Rex planes at Sydney Airport. Photo: Rex & Sydney Airport.

Rex has announced that Melbourne-Canberra will be its next Boeing 737 route, with two daily flights between the two cities to commence on 10 June 2021.

The route is already served with regular Qantas and Virgin Australia flights. But Rex believes there’s an opportunity to come into an overpriced Canberra-Melbourne market and undercut the fares of both airlines. Rex is selling launch fares from $69 one-way (plus booking fees), which includes checked baggage.

That’s significantly cheaper than the current Qantas and Virgin Australia airfares. Virgin’s lowest airfare on this short route is typically $185 one-way, while Qantas fares normally start from $218 one-way.

Virgin Australia has already matched the $69 Economy class airfares on dates when Rex is also flying. Qantas has lowered some Canberra-Melbourne fares to $99.

Virgin has also matched Rex’s $249 Business class fares – a drop of $200 from Virgin’s normal Business pricing on the route. But Rex’s entry has had no impact on Qantas Business class pricing, which still starts from $892 one-way. (You can read more about Rex Boeing 737 Business Class in our AFF review.)

Rex will operate morning and afternoon flights with the following schedule from Melbourne to Canberra:

  • ZL608 Melbourne 08:30 – Canberra 09:35
  • ZL626 Melbourne 16:00 – Canberra 17:05

And in the other direction:

  • ZL613 Canberra 10:15 – Melbourne 11:25
  • ZL633 Canberra 17:45 – Melbourne 18:55

The Melbourne-Canberra route had been served by Tigerair from 2016 until the budget airline was dissolved in 2020.

Last month, Rex entered the Canberra market with flights to Sydney on its smaller Saab 340 aircraft. At the same time, it opened a temporary lounge at Canberra Airport which is currently available as a promotional offer to all passengers flying to Sydney. The same deal hasn’t been announced for Rex passengers flying to Melbourne, but Rex Business passengers and lounge members should have access to that lounge.

Rex, traditionally a regional carrier, commenced Boeing 737-800 operations in March with Sydney-Melbourne flights. Rex now also flies Boeing 737s on the Sydney-Gold Coast, Melbourne-Gold Coast and Melbourne-Adelaide routes. The airline does not have a frequent flyer program.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Rex to fly between Australian capital cities


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]