REX Airlines celebrated their 10th Birthday yesterday with cake, balloons, and gifts for passengers. From left are, first officer Richard Knowles, pilot Gavin Autio, flight attendant Emma Owen, Corey and Aaron Thelander.
REX Airlines celebrated their 10th Birthday yesterday with cake, balloons, and gifts for passengers. From left are, first officer Richard Knowles, pilot Gavin Autio, flight attendant Emma Owen, Corey and Aaron Thelander. Cathy Adams

Flying to greater heights

AIR travellers flying with Regional Express, aka Rex, were in for a treat yesterday as the country's largest regional airline celebrated its 10th birthday.

Commuters at Lismore Airport got a small gift as well as the option of a slice of birthday cake before boarding their flights.

Rex rose from the ashes of Ansett Airlines on August 2, 2002, after regional airlines Hazelton and Kendell merged, said Rex sales manager, NSW and Qld, Maurice Gahan.

"We are now the biggest independent regional airline in Australia, with 40 regular public transport services," Maurice said.

"Our route network has expanded and over the past 10 years we have seen exceptional growth. At our peak we were carrying about 1.4 million passengers a year, but since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) we have been carrying about 1.2 million a year."

Last month Rex had another reason to celebrate when Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine, considered the world's leading aviation and aerospace magazine, voted the airline as the 11th best-performing airline ahead of most of such distinguished competitors as Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, Southwest and Qantas.

Rex executive chairman Lim Kim Hai said the decade in the aftermath of September 11 was "one of the most toxic ones the aviation world had ever seen".

"There were the wars in the Middle East, SARS, the decade-long drought, the pilot shortage, the GFC, runaway fuel prices, volcanic ash from Iceland, the Eurozone crisis, among many others," he said. "It was not a good time for an airline to be born.

"Yet survive we did and we are still standing tall today."

Rex will celebrate its birthday with a special Open Day at Rex's Australian Airline Pilot Academy in Wagga Wagga on September 8.

Rex's fleet of Saab 340 aircraft fly 1300 weekly flights to 35 destinations throughout NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland.

The Rex Group comprises Regional Express, air freight and charter operator Pel-Air Aviation, and Dubbo-based regional airline Air Link, as well as the Australian Airline Pilot Academy.



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