Although it has been discussed in the past, I think now is more relevant than ever in regards to the survival over the next 5-10 years.
The key points to be highlighted in my case are the following:
- Saab 340 fleet renewal - some aircraft are over 30 years old now and are showing their age big time. What replaces them, where do they get the funds, did they make a mistake prioritising 737s?
- Managment - John Sharp has a history of making comments that could pose a risk to the airline if any of their competitors bite back. His attitude has also developed into a company-wide mindset.
- Advertising - quite frankly, Rex sucks at it. They may be known around the country but their advertising for domestic services was awful and they're left in the dust compared to QF, VA, JQ and Bonza.
- Security requirements - As we move forward, greater security requirements will be implemented, removing ZLs security-free out port operations.
- Passenger satisfaction - as planes get older, performance lacks and in-flight product is left behind, they're ultimately going to seek others such as QF, even at a higher price.
In fairness to Rex, I'm not convinced Bonza will last. I don't believe the MAX 8 will offer much in Australia for touristy/semi-regional routes as many airports are space limited unless you're sticking to major hubs, which they're borderline doing.
QF on the other hand is picking away at ZLs network, offering faster, newer and more comfortable aircraft. Specifically, at my airport (WGA), QF begins direct WGA-BNE flights next month to complement their ABX-BNE flights already operating. This already will be far more attractive to passengers as it is a 90 minute plus saving compared to connecting along with other benefits such as frequent flyers - something ZL doesn't have to offer.
I work around the REX network daily as a contractor and I've seen first hand how the morale is. I think it is evident that communication from upper management and staff is not the greatest and I think a bit of worry is present, especially with big news events such as ZLs now-famous full-page newspaper advert slamming their competition.
Rex is a fantastic airline but I worry about its future based on current decisions. Attacking the golden triangle perhaps was not the right idea after all. I do wonder if Rex would have been more of a hit had they have up-gauged to something like Embraer's instead of 737s, allowing them to conduct semi-regional routes that Bonza is attempting.