Flight Centre signs landmark agreement with Rex as pilots prepare for industrial action

Adelaide, Australia - January 4, 2013: REX (Regional Express Airlines) Saab 340 twin engined regional commuter aircraft taking off from Adelaide Airport.

Rex has revealed a series of new agreements with major travel agency groups including a landmark 10-year agreement with Flight Centre.

The airline has signed multiple agreements with major travel agency groups including Flight Centre, Helloworld, Webjet, Consolidated Travel and Corporate Travel Management.

In particular, Rex’s landmark agreement with Flight Centre ensures the regional carrier will be Flight Centre’s partner of choice over the next decade.

The agreements are expected to result in a more than doubling of Rex’s annual domestic jet revenues in FY23 compared to its current annualized domestic jet revenues with no increase in fleet size.

Revenue on its regional network is also expected to be improved.

“As we continue to grow our network, our travel agency community is critical to this success and we look forward to working in close partnership with them,” Ann Elliott, Rex’s general manager of sales, said.

“These new partnerships are a testament to our growing reputation as a safe, reliable and affordable full-service airline which is enjoying ever increasing passenger support.”

The news comes as Rex pilots voted in favour of taking protected industrial action from Tuesday.

More than 90 per cent of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) Rex Saab pilot members voted to approve a range of eight legally protected industrial actions that include a number of work bans and, potentially, work stoppages of up to four hours each.

The PIA ballot opened on 15 June and closed on 22 June 2022 during which time a total of 230 of the 247 AFAP members (or 93 per cent) who were eligible to participate submitted a vote online.

The results show support for all eight forms of industrial action put to vote including in favour of banning tankering and route/port breifings outside of duty time, allowing pilots to wear non-uniform items, bans on working less than 10 hours since their last shift when away from home base and 12 hours when at home base and bans on operating aircraft with a deferred defect.

Members also voted in favour of 4-hour work stoppages.

AFAP notified Rex that members would begin action on tankering and uniform issues from tomorrow.

A spokesperson for Rex told Travel Weekly the airline has put in place mitigating measures to ensure its regional services operate normally and confirmed its domestic 737 services will not be impacted in any way.

“The union and the company are aligned in our desire not to have the travelling public impacted especially during the school holidays when airports are expecting massive delays,” the spokesperson said.

“Rex passengers could expect minor changes to the service delivery for example the uniform worn may not be the standard one.”

Earlier this month, Rex’s deputy chairman John Sharp said it was “beyond belief” that its pilot cohort has refused its latest pay proposal, which the airline said was “substantially better” than the offer accepted by the union on behalf of QantasLink pilots in 2021.

AFAP told Australian Aviation the agreement would have meant “a cut in real-term salary of more than 5 per cent” over four years.

The airline also expressed concerns over AFAP’s president, Louise Pole, a pilot with QantasLink, working for Rex’s main competitor.

Rex pilots have been attempting to negotiate a new Enterprise Agreement since early-2018 (ahead of the 30 June 2018 expiry of the Regional Express Pilots’ Enterprise Agreement 2014).

Image source: iStock/Ryan Fletcher

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