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More Qantas flights to KI after Rex pullout

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Qantas will more than double its flights to bushfire-hit Kangaroo Island in the wake of regional carrier Rex this week announcing it would axe the route – but the increased flights won’t kick in until July.

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Qantas said today it will operate 12 return flights to Kangaroo Island a week, year-round from July. This compares with its current KI service of five return flights a week, dropping to three in off-peak times.

Qantas said the extra flights will go on sale later this month from $99 one-way, aboard a QantasLink 50 seat Q-300 aircraft.

“Now is the time to be supporting Kangaroo Island, not deserting it,” QantasLink CEO John Gissing said.

“What Kangaroo Island needs over the months and years ahead is for tourists to come back and a reliable air service is vital for that to occur.”

Rex’s decision to drop the KI route prompted finger-pointing between it and Qantas.

Rex said it had made an official complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over “Qantas’ behaviour of dumping excessive capacity on routes that are already extremely marginal”, such as the KI and Whyalla services.

“Rex has been a steadfast partner to Kangaroo Island… and other regional and remote communities for decades, faithfully providing reliable, safe and frequent air services with affordable fares,” it said on Monday.

“However, Rex has to face up to the reality that it is not able to match Qantas’ financial firepower and unlike Qantas, Rex is not able to continue servicing a money-losing route indefinitely.”

Qantas hit back at Rex, accusing it of “throwing tantrums”.

“We’re focused on adding new routes to regions that we think have genuine growth potential. That includes stimulating those towns with more capacity, which helps build momentum and can grow the size of the pie over time.

“Rex blaming our capacity commitments as a reason for exiting Kangaroo Island after the devastating bushfires is a sad state of affairs.”

KI mayor Michael Pengilly said on Monday that the Rex flights were “crucial” to tourism, and called for Qantas to increase its service to twice-daily all week to ensure access for international visitors.

Qantas said today its KI flights would be re-timed to enable easy connections through Adelaide for domestic and international tourists and was working closely with SA Tourism Commission.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said: “This is a terrific show of support for the Kangaroo Island community, and a significant investment from Qantas.”

“Today’s announcement will give the island and the entire SA tourism sector a major boost of confidence and will encourage more people to #BookThemOut.”

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