A REX whisteblower claims humiliated staff members have stopped wearing the company’s uniform as the airline continues to fly into the eye of a public relations storm.
In a turbulent week for the regional carrier, the company’s mocking response to a complaint letter from visiting Griffith cardiologist Dr Charles Thorburn – published for the first time in last Friday’s The Area News – has grabbed headlines around the world.
A city-based Rex employee, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity, said the tone of the letter had an eerily familiar ring for staff.
“This is exactly the way pilots, ground staff and
engineers are treated,” he said.
“We just find it incredible the board won’t stand up to this guy (chairman Lim Kim Hai). They have the power to remove him.
“We care deeply about this company and what it’s built up over 10 years; it’s just a shame all that is being torn down because of stubbornness.
“It’s got to the stage where many of us are too ashamed to wear the Rex uniform.”
He said the company, majority owned by a group of Singaporean investors, had an entrenched “culture of arrogance”.
“They will just not back down and it doesn’t matter if it costs them $10 million,” he said.
Despite the story doing serious damage to the Rex brand, chairman Lim Kim Hai remained unrepentant in a statement to the media on Wednesday.
“We believe we are fully justified in holding Dr Thorburn to the same standards as what he is expecting of us,” Mr Kim Hai said.
“That is why we asked if he would compensate a patient that does not get well ...
“Many may feel our stand is arrogant but these are our principals (sic) and we will not be all things to all people.”
Mr Kim Hai pointed to the company’s comparatively strong on-time departure figures, despite the fact the figures do not include flights from one-carrier ports such as Griffith.
The controversy has taken the gloss off Rex’s tenth anniversary of operation, which fell yesterday.
The man who sparked the row, Dr Thorburn, said he hoped it had taught Rex a valuable lesson about customer service.
“I didn’t expect anything to come of this but it has clearly unearthed a hornet’s nest and revealed a huge dissatisfaction from Rex customers,” Dr Thorburn said.
“I have had support from so many people, including people that work for Rex.”