As announced by the New South Wales government on 22 June 2021, funds for the new budget year have been allocated for NSW Ambulance (NSWA) to secure an improved mix of aircraft in their Air Ambulance fleet. Rex subsidiary Pel-Air will be adding two new Pilatus PC-24 jets to the NSWA Fixed Wing air ambulance services contract. The operations phase of the contract will commence from 1 January 2022 with the introduction of five new King Air B350 aircraft. The two jets will be introduced into service in the second half of 2023, and will replace two of the five King Air B350 aircraft for the rest of the 10-year operational phase.
The Pilatus PC-24 jets will undergo modifications in both Stans, Switzerland and in New South Wales to prepare the aircraft for the critical care and complex mission requirements of NSWA in the areas of standard patient transfers, Newborn and Paediatric Emergency Transport Service operations, Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation operations, Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump operations, Bariatric patient operations, over-water aeromedical transfers and major incident responses.
The ability of the PC-24 jet to travel long distances at very high speed and to land at narrow unpaved runways of only 11m width will be critical in a big state like NSW and could make the difference between life and death. Pel-Air Chairman John Sharp said, “Pel-Air is honoured by the confidence that the NSWA has placed on Pel-Air in being able to carry out successfully the procurement and modifications of these state-of-the-art jets and to run its aeromedical retrieval operations for the next 10 years with a mixed fleet for the first time in its history. All five new King Air B350 have been delivered in-country on time despite the challenges of COVID and we are well on track to start operations in six months’ time.” Pel-Air is the incumbent operator of a similar contract for Ambulance Victoria.
Rex creates portal for COVID refunds
Rex also announced it has created a dedicated online automated portal for COVID refund requests that will ensure eligible tickets are refunded to the passenger’s bank within seven days of request. It may take a few extra days for the bank to credit the passenger’s account. This is in line with Rex’s unique COVID Refund Guarantee which provides for a full refund for passengers whose flight plans on Rex are directly impacted by COVID-related travel restrictions due to border closures, lockdowns and quarantine requirements. Rex passengers seeking a COVID refund can access the COVID Refund portal here or alternatively can go on Rex’s website and click on the Rex COVID Refund Guarantee tile.
Rex Deputy Chairman John Sharp said, “Rex has cancelled hundreds of flights due to the recent border closures and lockdowns. Consequently, tens of thousands of Rex passengers are facing cancellation of their flights. Without our groundbreaking automated portal, it would take us weeks if not months to manually process this volume of requests. Rex is a full-service airline that provides its passengers with the highest level of service, and processing refunds in a speedy manner is part of its dedication to its passengers. Rex believes that its passengers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and should not have to suffer the indignity and anguish that Qantas passengers suffer when trying to get a refund. Rex has the financial strength to refund every eligible ticket immediately, unlike Qantas which does not have the liquidity to do so. This explains why there are legions of Qantas passengers not refunded even after a year.”