March 26, 2023

Regional airline operations typically contain flying smaller turboprop plane on shorter routes, serving distant communities which depend on air connectivity to outlive. There’s, nonetheless, one route in Queensland, Australia, that takes this mannequin to an entire new stage. Let’s take a better have a look at the Regional Specific Airways (often called ‘Rex’) operation from Brisbane to Mount Isa.

A novel flying expertise

For the common traveler, the considered spending the perfect a part of a day flying on a loud 30-seat turboprop plane that makes six intermediate stops earlier than it lastly delivers you to your closing vacation spot should sound like nothing in need of a unending dangerous dream. Nevertheless, for others, the chance to undertake such an journey holds a sure attract on a route not like some other.


Operated by Rex Airways, the Queensland ‘milk-run’ flight operates between Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland, and the distant township of Mount Isa, greatest identified for its native trade concerned within the extraction of pure assets.

Setting off on one other Queensland multi-leg milk run. Photograph: Rex Airways/ Rex

The operation is a feat of endurance for each the plane used and its crew, taking passengers from the city sprawl of Brisbane, via a number of small farming communities, earlier than arriving on the remotely positioned city in Northern Queensland.

Rex operates this important service twice weekly in every course, utilizing one among its fleet of 60 Saab 340 turboprop plane, which seat between 30 and 36 passengers relying on the configuration. The flights are bookable through the Rex web site, and fares begin at simply AUD$299. Flight numbers are ZL7662 westbound from Brisbane, and the return flight is ZL7661 from Mount Isa.

The entire flight takes simply over 9 hours and makes six intermediate stops at numerous factors on its journey. The precise direct distance between Brisbane and Mount Isa, based on, is simply 977 statute miles (1,563 kilometers). Nevertheless, with its numerous stopovers and diversions of the direct route, the overall distance lined by the milk run is definitely 1,256 miles (2,905km), with a mean sector size of 179 miles (186 km).

The route visits 8 airports throughout northern Queensland over 9 hours. Picture:

Subsidization stays key to the operation

As is commonly the case with marginal regional routes (each in Australia and elsewhere), the Rex milk run operation wouldn’t be commercially viable with out important subsidies by the Queensland State authorities. With out such subsidies, many regional routes inside Australia would merely shut, and lots of distant communities could be left with out the important air providers they depend on for much-needed hyperlinks to healthcare and different important providers.

Operations such because the Rex milk run additionally supply the native residents the chance to maneuver between the varied communities for social causes and to journey to advertise native commerce.

The Saab 340B fleet varieties the spine of Rex’s regional turboprop operations. Photograph: Regional Specific/Rex

Route particulars of the ‘milk run’

Setting off from Brisbane’s primary worldwide airport (BNE), flight ZL7661 departs within the morning at 08:00, heading west on the primary sector of its seven-sector day. The primary cease is only a brief hop from Brisbane. Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport (WTB) is simply 25 minutes flying time from Brisbane, or 82 miles (131 km) in distance.

Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport is Australia’s latest privately run and constructed airport and opened to industrial site visitors in 2014. Regardless of the space from Brisbane, when it first opened, the airport referred to itself as Brisbane West Airport (this title was later dropped in 2017).

The airport sees common service from Qantaslink (Sydney), Airnorth (Melbourne, Townsville, and Cairns), and Rex. The airport, with its substantial single runway (12/30) with a size of 9,420ft (2,870m), additionally accommodates common flights from Cathay Pacific Cargo and Singapore Airways Cargo flights. It additionally handles diverted flights as the first alternate airport for Brisbane.

Departing Toowoomba Wellcamp at 09:00, the following leg of the journey takes passengers 350 miles (560km) to Charleville Airport (CTL) with a flight time of 1 hour 40 minutes. Whereas on the bottom at Charleville, passengers can disembark the plane for a 30-minute consolation break whereas the aircraft is ready for the following leg, and the crew enjoys a well-earned espresso break!

As soon as the plane is prepared for its third leg of the day, it takes off at 11:00 on its subsequent 125-mile (200km) sector to Quilpie (ULP), arriving at 11:45. Quilpie is a small rural outback city that boasted a inhabitants of simply 595 individuals (based on the final native census in 2016).

The Saab 340 is effectively suited to operations from smaller, regional airports similar to people who function on the milk run. Photograph: Regional Specific/Rex

As a result of lack of floor energy at Quilpie, the flight crew retains the right-hand (starboard) engine working for the temporary stopover (often called a ‘scorching turnaround’). The plane is quickly on its manner once more at 12:05, heading to Windorah (WNR), an excellent smaller city (inhabitants of 115 in 2016), a distance of 129 miles (206km). The flight lands at this subsequent cease at 12:50.

As soon as on the bottom in Windorah, the plane is refueled, and the crew takes a break for lunch. Passengers touring onwards with the aircraft within the afternoon are requested to disembark for an additional brief break earlier than they reboard. As soon as able to go, the engines are began once more for the second half of this epic journey throughout the outback.

After lunch, the engines are began for the second half of the day’s flying. Photograph: Regional Specific/Rex

The second half

The afternoon’s flying units off from the city of Windorah at 13:00, touchdown an hour later within the city of Birdsville (BVI), a distance of 210 miles (336km). By now, the luxurious agricultural panorama has disappeared, and the flight is passing over a largely featureless purple earth desert, colloquially often called Australia’s ‘purple heart.’ Birdsville is one other tiny city with a inhabitants of simply over 100 individuals as of 2021.

After one other 45 minutes on the bottom in Birdsville, the aircraft units off for the sixth and penultimate sector of the milk run at 14:45, heading 107 miles (171km) for the equally tiny city of Bedourie (BEU), touchdown at 15:25. With a closing temporary cease to load and unload passengers, baggage and freight, the plane units off for the final leg of the day, heading to the economic mining city of Mount Isa, Queensland.

This final leg departs Bedourie at 15:40 for the second-longest sector of the day (1 hour and 35 minutes), touchdown 253 miles (404km) away on the closing vacation spot of Mount Isa (ISA) at 17:15. Mount Isa Airports performs host to scheduled flights to Cairns, Townsville, and the regional locations included on the Rex milk run. The airport has a single asphalt runway (16/34) measuring 8,399ft (2.560 m) in size.

Flight ZL7662 ends its journey right here, the place the plane is shut down, closed up, and the crew heads into city for an evening cease earlier than returning to fly again to Brisbane the next morning as ZL7661.

Mount Isa is on the finish of the route, the place the plane rests in a single day earlier than making the return journey the next day. Photograph: Andrew Curran/Easy Flying

All the best way dwelling again to Brisbane

The journey again to Brisbane leaves Mount Isa at 08:00 and, following the identical route because the westbound ZL7662 the day past, lands again at Brisbane at 17:15, taking 9 hours and quarter-hour to finish the return leg.

The entire time for the spherical journey sees the assigned plane working for 18 hours half-hour over the return journey between Brisbane to Mount Isa and away from its Brisbane base for a complete of 33 hours and quarter-hour.

The plane finally makes its manner again to Brisbane, the place it meets its Rex stablemate, the Boeing 737-800. Photograph: Rex Airways/Rex

A visit like no different

For a person needing to journey from Brisbane to Mount Isa (or vice versa), there are quite a few different choices for flying between the 2 factors that are far faster and arguably in much more snug environment than that supplied by Rex’s Saab 340 plane. Different airways (Virgin Australia, Qantas) present direct providers operated by extra snug, bigger, and far sooner Boeing 717-200s and 737-800s

That mentioned, touring on this distinctive route presents vacationers an perception into small-town, regional airline operations – alternatives which might be turning into more and more arduous to search out.

The Queensland milk run – an unmatched Australian airborne journey!

For an affordable fare and at a tempo that can will let you see and luxuriate in a few of the most gorgeous landscapes on the planet passing beneath you, certainly the Rex Queensland milk run ought to function extremely on the listing of must-dos for all those that both love flying, have an curiosity in rural airline operations, or simply love the considered touring throughout huge swathes of the Australian outback in such a leisurely and scenic manner.

Have you ever ever flown on Rex or been lucky sufficient to journey on the airline’s Queensland milk run operation? If that’s the case, do tell us about your expertise within the feedback.

Supply: Rex Airways,

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