Rex Airlines launches Sydney-Canberra link with $99 one-way fare

Ian Bushnell 24 March 2021 43
Andrew Barr, John Sharp and Stephen Byron at Canberra Airport.

From left: ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Rex Airlines deputy chair John Sharp, and Canberra Airport CEO Stephen Byron at the announcement of Rex’s Sydney-Canberra flights today (24 March). Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Rex Airlines believes Virgin Australia will be in no rush to return to the Sydney-Canberra run, and that its cheap fares for the new link will stop travellers being gouged and attract a fair chunk of government travel.

Today (24 March), Rex announced it is entering the Qantas-monopoly market between Sydney and Canberra from 19 April with $99 one-way fares on a corridor in which nearly a million travellers flew annually before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Stepping into the vacuum left by struggling Virgin, Rex will initially commence with seven return flights a day with its 35-seat Saab 340 turboprop aircraft, but says this could exceed 10 a day if the response is strong.

Rex believes the route is large enough to sustain two competing carriers, but that Virgin won’t be back any time soon.

Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said Virgin had closed its discount carrier Tigerair and discarded its turboprop fleet, which he said was the perfect aircraft to fly a short route such as this one.

“I think it will be very difficult economically for Virgin to operate between Sydney and Canberra without its turboprop fleet,” he said.

“It will be very difficult for them to compete in that market space with only jet aircraft.”

Mr Sharp said Qantas is gouging air travellers with fares on the Canberra route, which are twice as much as their average ticket on the Sydney-Melbourne run. He even admitted he had driven to Canberra for the announcement because the airfare was too high.

“We will change that dynamic,” he said.

Mr Sharp is also optimistic Rex’s low fares will snare it a great deal of the notoriously elusive Commonwealth government market.

“Rex expects to get a lot of public service business because the public service theoretically works on best fare of the day,” he said.

At present, the average Qantas fare on the Sydney-Canberra route is four times what Rex can offer.

Rex Saab 340 aircraft flying.

The Saab 340: an economical aircraft for the Sydney-Canberra route. Photo: Rex Airlines.

Mr Sharp said the estimated annual savings of $60-$100 million to commuters when numbers return to pre-COVID-19 levels would go back to businesses, and the commute will be a jobs generator.

Rex is expanding its operations across the board and Mr Sharp said a low-fare Melbourne link is “on the map and something we’re prepared to discuss”.

ACT Chief Minister and Minister for Tourism Andrew Barr, whose government has been heavily involved in boosting aviation links to the national capital, said Rex is throwing down the gauntlet to all transport types.

But he stressed it is the connectivity with the Rex regional network that is important.

“It connects us in a really positive way with a whole range of communities, towns and cities, and tourism experiences,” said Chief Minister Barr.

“The investment Rex is making is a vote of confidence in this city and we are delighted to be working closely with the airline and Canberra Airport through Visit Canberra to widely promote the new services and contribute to the growth of the route.”

Canberra Airport CEO Stephen Byron said Rex’s move is a positive sign its making an investment in a growing and expanding region.

“This new Canberra-Sydney route will offer more choice for our travellers, stimulate jobs and grow the air travel market, which is a win-win for us all.”

Canberra Airport is still recovering from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, but is now operating at 48 per cent capacity.

Rex will have a lounge at Canberra Airport, complementing the airline’s existing lounge in Sydney, which will give way to a new, much larger lounge opposite Gate 49 in the coming months.

The new Sydney-Canberra flights are on sale from later this week.

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43 Responses to Rex Airlines launches Sydney-Canberra link with $99 one-way fare
Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:04 pm 28 Mar 21
Em Emeralds Em Emeralds 6:51 pm 27 Mar 21

Yeah but it’s still Rex with their old, poorly maintained aircraft! No thanks!

Jane Kim Jane Kim 1:35 pm 27 Mar 21

Murray’s or the train if you don’t want to drive to Sydney, especially if you want to go to the centre of the city.

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:49 am 27 Mar 21

I catch the train to Sydney. Flying for me is kept for more distant destinations.

Barbara Airs Barbara Airs 9:11 pm 25 Mar 21

Yes....Can/Bris please and at affordable prices.

    Susanne Gardiner Susanne Gardiner 9:23 am 26 Mar 21

    I am going to Bris next week, one way and paid $199 with Virgin.

    Karel Royle Karel Royle 11:43 am 26 Mar 21

    Susanne catching up with us? 😊

    Susanne Gardiner Susanne Gardiner 11:11 pm 26 Mar 21

    Karel Royle Busy geocaching with friends and also then bound to their car.

    Karel Royle Karel Royle 6:57 am 27 Mar 21

    Susanne never mind .. have fun! Any time though, we’d be happy to come down (to Brisbane) and catch up with you. Or to bring you back to ours for a couple of days then drop you back at A/P. We’re only about 2 hours north 🙂

Tom Porter Tom Porter 8:19 pm 25 Mar 21

Once the subsidies run out, so will Rex. Regional locations know from experience.

nickwest nickwest 6:36 pm 25 Mar 21

What about the train? It’s much cheaper and takes you direct to the Sydney CBD. Much nicer than the bus too – the seats are bigger, the toilets are bigger, there’s more leg room and you can get hot food and drinks.

    Daniel Nugent Daniel Nugent 9:01 pm 25 Mar 21

    With a train line that was built in the 1880s and a timetable that is slower than the 1950s? In 1962 The train took four hours to Sydney and the bus was 12.5 hours. Now the bus is 3.2 hours on a freeway built recently and the train? Time to invest in proper high speed rail…

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:37 pm 27 Mar 21

    ….and a huge fare discount if you have a pension card.

Ben Cuttriss Ben Cuttriss 1:00 pm 25 Mar 21

Leah perhaps this might make it better to get to brisbane

Kate Owers Kate Owers 10:33 am 25 Mar 21

Jennifer Brooks could this be beneficial?

Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:16 am 25 Mar 21

What are the baggage limits with the Rex service?

Soledad Berenguer Soledad Berenguer 6:35 am 25 Mar 21

And how much return? $99 only one way!

Chitra Iyer Chitra Iyer 5:35 am 25 Mar 21

2 hrs to get to the airport. 2.5 hrs to get to CBR...

Stephen Matthews Stephen Matthews 4:50 am 25 Mar 21


Lee Eeles Lee Eeles 10:10 pm 24 Mar 21

$49 one way on Murray's and that gets you from Sydney Central to Canberra Civic...

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 11:00 pm 24 Mar 21

    i believe the plane is faster.

    Christian Taylor Christian Taylor 12:10 am 25 Mar 21

    Rob Thomas Prove that the plane is faster from Civic to Central.

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 12:27 am 25 Mar 21

    Christian Taylor you'd like proof that a plane is faster than a bus?

    Rory Ding Rory Ding 12:49 am 25 Mar 21

    Christian Taylor Murrays 2pm leaves jolimont, arrives central at 5.30pm

    Catch R3 from city to airport at 2pm, flight depart at 3:30pm, land Sydney at 4:30pm, be at central by 5pm.

    I’ve done both flying and catching the bus numerous times, flying usually saves 1h, saves even more time if your bus leaves or arrives Sydney during rush hour

    Christian Taylor Christian Taylor 2:12 am 25 Mar 21

    Rob Thomas Yes. Obviously from Canberra Airport to Sydney Airport a plane is faster. That's not the contention here - planes don't take off from Northbourne last I checked. It's about getting from Civic to Central or from anywhere people actually live to where they want to be.

    Christian Taylor Christian Taylor 2:16 am 25 Mar 21

    Rory Ding Thanks for answering the question! I think you're probably a bit generous on landing in Sydney at 4.30pm and being at Central by 5pm given air traffic and baggage reclaim (at least pre-Covid). Given this the saving of maybe 15mins at best probably doesn't justify the cost (bus is like $45? The plane is $5 to get to the airport by bus and $99 and another $12 to get to Central by train).

    Lee Eeles Lee Eeles 4:57 am 25 Mar 21

    Christian Taylor Yes, my point exactly

    Dale Janssen Dale Janssen 3:45 pm 26 Mar 21

    Rob Thomas No way. Flight time may be 40 but you will be on the tarmac for 10-20 minutes as they will not be paying for priority. Also enjoy the tarmac walk. You will spend 20-30 minutes off-boarding and collecting your bag before you even get to the station. Then another 10 minutes assuming you arrive on time, and what's that additional ticket cost...

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 3:47 pm 26 Mar 21

    Dale Janssen thanks I read all that.

    Darren Haumaha Darren Haumaha 11:15 pm 28 Mar 21

    Lee Eeles But its 3 hrs

Anandi Venkatesh Anandi Venkatesh 6:36 pm 24 Mar 21

Who even flies Canberra-Sydney....maybe the pollies🤔’s quicker to drive isn’t it!

    Kyle Rollinson Kyle Rollinson 9:34 pm 24 Mar 21

    Anandi Venkatesh it is quicker to drive. Then what do you do with the car in the CBD of Sydney? Parking can be three fgures for a casual day, or $45 on top of your hotel.

    Sean Bishop Sean Bishop 11:14 pm 24 Mar 21

    Id spend that on full tank diesel.. which would get me back from Sydney as well

    Joey Mann Joey Mann 11:19 pm 24 Mar 21

    Anandi Venkatesh Takes 55 minutes in the air as opposed to almost 3 hours by car. Definitely not for everyone, but considering most destinations connect through Sydney it may be worth it for someone out there.

    Anandi Venkatesh Anandi Venkatesh 12:03 am 25 Mar 21

    Joey Mann add the one hour check in time and over an hour of commute from the all adds up! But you’re might help people with connecting flights

    Christian Taylor Christian Taylor 12:11 am 25 Mar 21

    Kyle Rollinson Take the bus.

    Christian Taylor Christian Taylor 12:13 am 25 Mar 21

    Joey Mann It's 3hrs by car from your house to your destination in Sydney. It's 55mins from Canberra Airport to Sydney Airport by air. It's not the same.

    Stephen Matthews Stephen Matthews 4:50 am 25 Mar 21

    Christian Taylor but theres the travel to and from the airport,fog in the winter.Murrays coaches is the go

    Kristian Barnes Kristian Barnes 4:57 pm 25 Mar 21

    These flights are mainly aimed to target Government and Business employees. As I do know of friends who do day trips to Sydney for business. Which means most of the time they don't need any luggage so carry on would suffice (meaning they don't need to wait at the baggage carousel). They would then take a taxi/private transport into the city. Then fly back home. Which would only really save an hour maybe two. But in the world of business, "time is money".

Helen Bastin Mulley Helen Bastin Mulley 6:17 pm 24 Mar 21

We need Canberra to Brisbane and return please

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