“Whilst REX’s initiative is successful in responding to natural attrition rates, it is not enough to stave off Qantas and Virgin Australia’s rapacious plundering of REX’s pilot pool instead of using their not inconsiderable resources to train their own pilots,” said REX’s Chief Operating Officer Neville Howell in an open letter detailing the accusation.
“These two airlines are causing widespread chaos and disruptions to regional air travel by their selfish and irresponsible actions,” added Neville.
Both Qantas and Virgin Australia have responded to REX’s accusations by underlining their enhanced investments in pilot training. Qantas plans on opening a new training academy in 2019 that will accommodate up to 500 pilots a year.
Additionally, Qantas claims that movement between airlines is completely normal for pilots.
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has strongly rejected the allegations that it is trying to cause a disruption in the regional market.
It is worth noting that both Qantas and Virgin Australia have higher rates of cancellation than REX, but this statistic may be due to the amount of flights that Qantas and Virgin Australia operate compared to REX.
However, REX isn’t the only regional airline that it is feeling the pains of what seems to be a worldwide pilot shortage. Regional subsidiary QantasLink and smaller operators such as AirNorth and the Royal Flying Doctor Service have also felt the impact of increased competition for pilots.
REX currently operates a fleet of 53 Saab 340 aircraft. The carrier also has two subsidiaries, Pel-Air Aviation and Air Link, who operate aircraft such as Saab 340s, Learjets, Beech turboprops, and Piper aircraft.