Qantas profits soar back after record Covid losses
By Tom Housden, Sydney : Qantas has announced half-year profits of more than A$1bn ($683m; £566m) in a dramatic turnaround of the airline’s fortunes since last year.
It comes after the company lost more than A$7bn during the pandemic when Australia imposed strict travel rules.
Its troubles continued last year with a slew of criticism over cancelled flights, lost luggage and delays.
The airline said strong demand for flights, higher airfares and cost-cutting were behind its rebound.
Chief executive Alan Joyce said revenue had tripled for the six months to the end of December to almost A$10bn as pandemic travel restrictions were eased.
The A$1bn profit compares with a loss of A$456m for the same period in the previous year.
“This is a huge turnaround considering the massive losses we were facing just 12 months ago,” Mr Joyce said.
The pandemic hit many airlines hard as countries closed their borders, with Australia imposing some of the most stringent travel restrictions in the world.
Borders remained shut to most non-Australians for over 18 months and thousands of Australians were stranded overseas due to strict quotas on arrivals.
In an effort to limit losses, in August 2020 Qantas announced it would outsource some 2,000 ground staff roles and cut thousands of jobs.
But that sparked a costly court case and staffing shortages.
The shortages triggered chaos at Australian airports as restrictions eased last year, with passengers enduring long delays and queues for check-in, while senior executives were roped in to help fill gaps.
As anger grew, in August it was reported that Mr Joyce’s A$19m waterfront home had been pelted with eggs and toilet paper.
Adding to its issues, the airline in January rejected suggestions of widespread issues with its aircraft after a series of mid-flight technical faults.
Despite these incidents, Qantas regained its title of the world’s safest airline in AirlineRatings.com’s rankings.
Mr Joyce on Thursday said the airline was “reinvesting” for its customers, and that, as supply chain and resourcing issues eased, travellers would start to see “downward pressure” on fares.
However, Qantas also cautioned that fares would remain “significantly” above 2019 levels.BBC