Rex’s executive chairman, Lim Kim Hai, has admitted his 20 years at the airline have driven him to despair “many a time” but hailed his airline’s “unsung heroes” for its survival.
Writing in his business’ annual report, Lim said, “Reflecting on the last 20 years, it seems like Sisyphus from Greek mythology, where every time we made some progress, the external storms came to push us downhill.
“During such times, the resilience and sheer tenacity of our staff were what kept me going.”
Rex recorded a loss before tax of $68 million during the last financial year, but has recently taken delivery of its seventh 737 as it continues to expand into capital city routes. In 2022, it celebrated two decades since its formation and was crowned airline of the year at the Australian Aviation Awards.
“I was there from Rex’s inception and went through the painful rebirth,” he wrote.
“Twenty years later, we again have to try and rise up from the near mortal blows delivered by COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine to find our footing in an extremely punishing environment – near-record fuel prices, galloping inflation, chronic shortage of all levels of expertise, supply chain dislocations and very unfavourable exchange rates … to name a few.
“Rex, too, faces today the COVID-related absenteeism and the severe shortage of staff. Yet, we see in all departments and all across our network numerous examples of staff pulling double shifts and responding to call-outs and extensions when our services are un-crewed or when we are faced with unserviceable aircraft.
“I, therefore, dedicate this foreword to all the unsung heroes who are the reason why we are still standing today.
“You are too many to thank individually. You know who you are, and you should know that you have the utmost gratitude of the entire Rex Board. With you in our midst, we can all look confidently to the next 20 years.”
Australian Aviation reported earlier on Friday how the airline is now planning a “major expansion” of its new FIFO business to directly challenge Qantas in their strongholds of Queensland and the Northern Territory.
The business said it would “immediately” lease another two more Dash 8s on the very same day it formally completed the acquisition of the regional services wing of Cobham.
It comes after the Flying Kangaroo said it would fully acquire charter and FIFO operator Alliance, which has a strong network in the state and territory.