REX will abandon its Bathurst-Sydney flights by the end of March as it responds to Qantas' "aggressive predatory" move into regional markets.
The Bathurst route, which attracted 20,000 passengers a year prior to COVID, is one of five "marginal" routes to be discontinued, along with flights between Sydney and Cooma, Lismore and Grafton, and the Adelaide to Kangaroo Island route.
Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said the changes were part Rex's new regional network strategy to cope with the twin threats of COVID and increased competition from Qantas.
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"Qantas has clearly embarked on a deliberate strategy of moving into Rex's routes that can only support one regional carrier in an attempt to intimidate and damage Rex in its traditional regional market, hoping that Rex would be a less formidable competitor in the domestic market," Mr Sharp said.
"Qantas is making record losses during COVID and has received an estimated $1.2 billion in Commonwealth assistance to stay solvent but, despite this, feels it is appropriate to use taxpayers' funds to finance the losses on new services whose sole objective is to weaken the competitor."
Rex will retain its Orange-Sydney flights for now, despite figures released this morning showing it attracted just 1017 passengers for the four weeks from January 17 to February 13, compared with the route's pre-COVID usage of 65,000 passengers a year.
Qantas began flying from Orange to Sydney in July last year.
"The Rex board has decided to stand its ground in these routes even if inevitably both carriers will be making significant losses," Mr Sharp said.
"Unfortunately, the expected drag on Rex's financial position from the losses ... will mean that Rex will be unable to continue subsidising marginal routes that we have serviced for the past 20 years."
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