Aviation

Qantas suffers $1bn half-yearly loss, pushes back international flight plans

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

Qantas Group has suffered a $1.1 billion loss in the first half of the 2021 fiscal year, and pushed back expectations of when it will resume international flights.

The company lost a whopping $6.9 billion in revenue over the six-month period, which covered Victoria’s extended lockdown and nationwide border closures.

Qantas’ statutory loss before tax was $1.47 billion. This included further redundancy and restructuring costs of $284 million in addition to the $642 million provided for in FY20, and a further $71 million writedown of its A380 fleet in line with the value of the Australian dollar.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce described the figures as “stark, but not surprising”.

“During the half, we saw the second wave in Victoria and the strictest domestic travel restrictions since the pandemic began,” he said.

“Virtually all of our international flying and 70 per cent of domestic flying stopped, and with it went three-quarters of our revenue.

Joyce said Qantas’ $4.2 billion of liquidity the group “breathing room to deal with the levels of uncertainty we’re still facing, and funding for the restructuring that will ultimately speed up our recovery”.

Qantas and Jetstar are now planning to restart regular international passenger flights to most destinations from 31 October 2021 – a four-month extension from the previous estimate of July, which had been in place since mid-2020.

The date change aligns with the expected timeframe for Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout to be effectively complete.

“Capacity will be lower than pre-COVID levels, with frequencies and aircraft type deployed on each route in line with the projected recovery of international flying,” the company said in a statement.

“International capacity is not expected to fully recover until 2024.”

“The group remains in close consultation with the federal government around the reopening of international borders and will keep customers updated if further adjustments are required.”

Qantas said it was assessing the use of digital health pass apps to help support the resumption of COVID-safe international travel.

“The CommonPass and IATA Travel Pass smartphone apps are being trialled on the airline’s international repatriation flights,” it said.

However, Qantas and Jetstar are planning for a “significant increase” in flights to and from New Zealand from 1 July 2021.

“The group has the ability to respond to travel bubbles that may open,” Qantas said.

Qantas’ billion-dollar loss highlights need for ‘Aviation Keeper’: TWU

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) said Qantas’ $1.1 billion half-yearly loss shows that the federal government must introduce an extension to JobKeeper for all stood-down aviation workers, with strict conditions for the companies receiving it.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said ongoing public support should be extended to keep the aviation industry alive, but companies like Qantas must be compelled to stop outsourcing and, for the foreseeable future, cap executive salaries and ban bonuses.

“Workers at Qantas, Virgin and other aviation companies are just four weeks away from the end of a lifeline which has kept their jobs going and their families afloat,” he said.

“These workers need to know that their jobs will still be there at the end of March, and that the skills and experience they have built up over many years will not be lost in our industry.

“We urge the federal government to introduce ‘Aviation Keeper’, which should include all aviation workers whose jobs continue to be affected by the crisis.

“There can be no carving out of international aviation or denying JobKeeper to workers like those at ground operator Dnata because of the company’s structure.”


Featured image source: iStock/ermingut

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