By Jamie Freed
SYDNEY, Oct 1 (Reuters) – As Virgin Australia shrinks to survive the pandemic, tiny Regional Express Holdings Ltd (Rex) REX.AX is picking up some of its larger rival’s planes and staff on the cheap – and attracting investors who see profit in the high-stakes plan.
A Boeing Co BA.N 737 leasing deal announced on Wednesday is the latest step in Rex’s gamble to take on Qantas Airways Ltd QAN.AX and Virgin starting with Sydney-Melbourne, the world’s fifth-busiest domestic route before the pandemic.
The move by Rex, until now an operator of ageing 30-36 seat turboprops, is a rare example of an airline expanding into new markets as the pandemic cripples air travel.
Shares in Rex and charter operator Alliance Aviation Services Ltd AQZ.AX have risen this year as investors look for counter-cyclical growth stories. Rex’s shares reached a one-year high on Thursday.
Rex entered the