Regional Airlines (Rex) is in discussion about a much reduced service throughout its network which could start by April 6, the date it was planning to stop services unless government assistance was forthcoming.
Following the announcement of an aviation initiative which was warmly welcomed by Rex's deputy chairman John Sharp, the company continues talks to finalise the details of the package.
"Discussions with local and state governments to cement a revised skeleton schedule which will provide crucial air services are ongoing, and a further announcement will be made once the details are finalised with the relevant government authorities," the company has said.
"Flight services are operating but may be subject to schedule changes as Rex delivers a scaled back flight frequency to meet a passenger demand reduced by 85 per cent."
Currently Rex is operating one flight a day from Sydney to Merimbula and then back to Sydney on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Merimbula has one flight arriving from Melbourne on Monday and Tuesday and arriving and departing flights from Melbourne on Friday and Saturday.
In all between the two destinations of Sydney and Melbourne it amounts to six departures and eight arrivals but all appear to be only scheduled until April 5.
The company was asked about COVID-19 safety measures such as cleaning, hand sanitiser and temperature checks and pointed to a list of measures which it says it has been undertaking for the last few weeks; they do not include temperature checks.
The company said it has increased existing aircraft cleaning procedures including providing "extended cleaning of the cabin during all aircraft turnarounds".
"Our fleet of SAAB 340 aircraft are fitted with High Efficiency Particle Air (HEPA) filters, which perform similarly to those used to keep the air clean in hospital operating rooms, and are the best available technology for filtering the air on-board aircraft," the company said.
"Where possible, check-in will endeavour to allocate alternating occupied and unoccupied seats (unless passengers are travelling together). On-board pillows and blankets have been removed and flight attendants are wearing latex gloves for most of the service and our cabin crew may choose to wear a face mask," Rex said.
Hand Sanitiser is available on-board.
The company said it was committed to reviewing its operations to publish a revised schedule subject to:
- The criteria of the federal government's assistance package
- The level of support from local government or airport owners, with potential to suspend services where there has been no or inadequate support pledged from council
- Support from state governments, and priority routes as determined by state government
- Consultation with QantasLink on which carrier services each of the 10 ports currently services by both airlines, in accordance with interim authorisation given by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on March 26, 2020.