The REX, my way or the highway page one Rural Press story

Regional Express chairman Lim Kim Hai runs a much admired and very successful airline, but has a public relations calamity on his hands after correspondence between himself and an unhappy customer was published in the Southern NSW newspaper, The Area News.

These are the opening paragraphs of its main story on the dispute:

LOCAL leaders have demanded Rex issue an immediate apology to a visiting cardiologist rebuked by the airline’s chairman during a public relations crash-landing last week.

Leading Sydney cardiologist Dr Charles Thorburn has threatened to boycott Rex and end his 20-year relationship with Griffith after a valid complaint letter to the airline’s Singapore-based boss was met with an “arrogant and offensive” response.

In a return letter bordering on high farce, a Rex employee – acting on instruction from chairman Lim Kim Hai – questioned and ridiculed Dr Thorburn, even asking if he offered refunds for heart patients who “do not get well after seeing you”.

The letter that Dr Thorburn sent to Lim as published by The Area is here, and the REX chairman’s return salvo, in which he told the cardiologist that REX owed him nothing, is here.

The exchange reads like a ‘my way or the highway’ argument. REX is the only airline of size that operates from Griffith. But customers would still save time going to Sydney if they were sufficiently annoyed to drive to Wagga Wagga and fly Qantaslink.