Qantas has clapped back at rival Rex and said complaints that it’s being forced out of routes by the flag carrier are nothing more than a “weird conspiracy theory”.
In a withering riposte, the larger business on Monday released a strongly worded statement systematically debunking what it calls “false claims” made by Rex and attacking the smaller airline for blaming its problems on Qantas.
It marks the latest barb in the long-running row between the two airlines, which began after the larger company launched services on previously Rex-exclusive regional routes. On Monday, Rex said it would pull out of five more regional cities and blamed the move on Qantas.
In response, Qantas has launched a new offensive to “respond” to Rex’s numerous claims, with a new web page dedicated to the rebuttal effort.
“Rex’s claims against Qantas have become so far-fetched, we had to create a dedicated page on our website to rebut them and update it on a fairly regularly basis as they cook up more weird conspiracy theories,” a Qantas spokesperson told Australian Aviation.
On the new web page, and speaking of its rival’s most recent decision to withdraw from routes to Bathurst, Grafton, Lismore, Kangaroo Island and Ballina, Qantas retorted: “Rex blamed Qantas, despite the fact that Qantas operates on only two of these routes (Kangaroo Island and Ballina) and Rex is the sole operator on the other three routes.
“This is just the latest example of Rex blaming Qantas and others for decisions that by its own admission it has made ‘to look after itself’.”
“The reality is that Qantas services have been welcomed by regional communities as providing competition and flexibility,” Qantas said.
“Since Qantas started flying Sydney-Broken Hill and Sydney-Orange, both Qantas and Rex have increased flights to meet growing demand.”
Qantas also pointed to the fact that the ACCC has said it will take “no further action” in an earlier investigation into Qantas’ alleged anti-competitive behaviour after Rex made a formal complaint.
“The Qantas Group has launched more than 50 new domestic and regional routes over the past two years, only 10 of which have been operated by Rex,” Qantas said.
The airline said it will continue to update the webpage “to correct further false claims from Rex”.
In March, the ACCC reported that the Qantas Group boasted a 62 per cent share of the domestic passenger market, while Rex held 4 per cent.
Earlier this month, Rex announced its departure from both Sydney-Canberra and Melbourne-Albury, and reignited a longstanding battle against rival Qantas over both airline’s network expansion into each other’s territory.
The fiery war-of-words has seen Qantas CEO Alan Joyce mock Rex’s “empty aircraft” while Rex deputy chairman John Sharp called Qantas’ moves “predatory”, and questioned how Joyce can “look at himself in the mirror some mornings”. Qantas has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
The tit-for-tat battle ramped up after Rex announced plans for its own grand entrance into capital city routes in 2020 on a fleet of second-hand Boeing 737s. The previously regional carrier took off on its first Melbourne-Sydney flight on 1 March 2021.
Then, in February 2021, Qantas took on eight separate routes that were previously exclusive to Rex: Sydney-Orange, Sydney-Merimbula, Sydney-Griffith, Melbourne-Merimbula, Melbourne-Albury, Melbourne-Wagga Wagga, Melbourne-Mount Gambier, and Adelaide-Mount Gambier.