Qantas has suffered a billion-dollar-plus loss in profits in the first half of its trading year, dogged by both domestic and international travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. But in brighter news, the airline is now planning a return to international skies from October 2021.
The Qantas Group endured an underlying loss before tax of $1.03 billion and a $6.9 billion drop in revenue, noting the half-year results covered Victoria’s extended COVID-19 lockdown and continual nationwide border closures.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the results are “stark but not surprising”.
“During the half, we saw the second wave in Victoria and the strictest domestic travel restrictions since the pandemic began,” Mr Joyce said, releasing the results on Thursday.
“Virtually all of our international flying and 70 per cent of domestic flying stopped, and with it went three-quarters of our revenue.”
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce
The group’s statutory loss before tax was $1.47 billion, which included further redundancy and restructuring costs of $284 million, coming on top of the $642 million provided in its 2020 full-year results.
It also included a further $71 million write-down of the A380 fleet, in line with its Australian dollar market value.
Mr Joyce said despite these huge challenges, he believes the results show the group’s underlying strength.
“When we had the opportunity to fly domestically, we saw significant pent-up travel demand and generated positive cash flow,” he said.
He said Qantas Loyalty program still generated a strong cash contribution of $454 million as the vast majority of points are earned from the activity on the ground, while Qantas Freight had a record result because of a lack of international passenger flying created a shortage of cargo space globally.
“These factors couldn’t overcome the massive impact of the crisis, but they have softened it,” Mr Joyce said.
Recent domestic border closures have also delayed the group’s recovery by an estimated three months.
Qantas & Jetstar prepare to resume services from late October
Based on a variety of factors, the working assumption for international travel has moved to the end of October 2021, but with a material increase in trans-Tasman flying scheduled for July 2021.
The Qantas Group says that the date change from the previous and controversial July 2021 timeline aligns with the expected timeframe for Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout to be effectively complete.
The news could mean that in Qantas’s celebratory 100th year of flying, we could see the flying Kangaroo back in the skies before the year ends.
“The COVID vaccine rollout in Australia will take time, but the fact it underway gives us more certainty,” Mr Joyce said.
“More certainty that domestic borders can stay open because frontline and quarantine workers will be vaccinated in a matter of weeks. And more certainty that international borders can open when the nationwide rollout is effectively complete by the end of October.”
Qantas said federal government assistance, such as JobKeeper, has helped the airline through the profound impact of the travel restrictions, as have support for regional, domestic and some international flights that helped to keep key transport links active.
Share this story