The Queensland Government has announced the winning tenders to operate the Government subsidised regulated regional routes.
The big winner in the announcement is Regional Express (Rex) who have picked up three routes to add to their existing two, taking them to five regional Queensland routes.
Rex maintained their existing routes;
Townsville - Winton - Longreach (Northern 1)
Townsville - Hughenden - Richmond - Julia Creek - Mt Isa (Northern 2)
they have also added the following three routes;
Brisbane - Toowoomba - St George - Cunnamulla - Thargomindah (Western 1)
Brisbane - Toowoomba - Charleville - Quilpie - Windorah - Birdsville - Bedourie - Bouila - Mt Isa (Western 2)
Cairns - Normanton - Mornington Island - Burketown - Doomadgee - Mt Isa (Gulf)
All five of the routes will be operated by the Rex fleet of Saab SF340B aircraft, with the two Western routes operating through the new Brisbane West- Wellcamp Airport at Toowoomba.
Rex picked up Northern 1 and 2 in 2011. The addition of Western 1 & 2 sees Rex return to scheduled services at Brisbane after an absence, however they have still operated FIFO and Freight charters from Brisbane, so have maintained a presence.
Qantaslink hold onto their two regulated routes;
Brisbane - Roma - Charleville (Central 1)
Brisbane - Barcaldine/Blackall - Longreach (Central 2)
These routes will continue to be operated by Qantaslink's Dash 8Q aircraft however both routes will see an up gauge with Central 2 up gauging to Q400 and Central 1 to Q300.
The big loser from this announcement is Skytrans who have lost almost all their regulated routes (to Rex) this comes hot on the heels of their loss of their Toowoomba - Sydney service which is ceasing due to the introduction of the new Qantaslink Q400 Wellcamp - Sydney services.
Skytrans cling onto life with their own services around Cape York and on the Cairns - Mt Isa route as well as their FIFO charters. The Cape York network is as follows;
The Lockhart River, Coen, Arurkun services which operates the following different patterns on different days
Cairns - Aurukun - Coen - Lockhart River - Cairns (M)
Cairns - Coen - Lockhart River - Aurukun - Cairns (W, F)
Cairns - Lockhart River - Aurukun - Cairns (Tu, Th)
Mt Isa services
Cairns - Mt Isa (M-Tu, Th-F)
Mt Isa - Cairns (M, W-F)
The Edward River (Pormpuraaw) and Kowanyama service
Cairns - Edward River - Kowanyama - Cairns (M, Th)
Cairns - Kowanyama - Edward River - Cairns (Tu, F)
The Cape route to Bamaga
Cairns - Bamaga - Cairns (M-F)
The loss of the Western 1 & 2 contracts will see the end of Skytrans operating scheduled services from Brisbane however they will continue to maintain a presence through FIFO contracts.
Another loser in all of this is Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VARA) who have for quite sometime been trying to get access into the Queensland regional routes, and have often been thwarted by the regulated route structure. VARA tendered but did not win any of the available routes. There only options for possible extensions to regional Queensland flying comes from existing routes or the below deregulated routes.
Time will tell if previous threats made by Virgin CEO John Borghetti to the Queensland Government regarding implications of the lack of access to the Queensland regions come to pass.
Start & DeregulationsAll existing contracts end on 31-December-2014 with new contracts beginning on 1-January-2015.
At the same time the following regulated routes, currently operated by Qantaslink will be deregulated and opened to competition;
Townsville - Cloncurry - Mt Isa
Cairns - Horn Island
Cairns - Weipa
Learn MoreBrisbane West Wellcamp Airport have welcomed Rex via a post on their Facebook Page
There is an article on the announcement from Brisbane Times reporter Cameron Atfield HERE