Qantas books bumper profit after Covid turbulence
August 24, 2023 11:02 AM
The national carrier said the result was a "world away" from the dark days of the pandemic, in which the company booked losses of US$4.5 billion as the aviation sector ground to a halt.
Although the bumper result will delight shareholders, it also ratchets up pressure on Qantas to slash sky-high fares that have angered many customers post-lockdown.
"This is a remarkable turnaround, three years in the making. And it's been hard," said outgoing chief executive Alan Joyce, who will stand down in November.
Qantas has drastically restructured to get its books in better shape -- infuriating transport unions after sacking or standing down thousands of staff at the height of the outbreak.
Joyce defended these moves as crucial to the company's long-term fortunes while signalling plans to acquire new planes and overhaul the Qantas fleet in the future.
"Put simply, we can afford to invest and grow, especially in new aircraft, while still delivering returns to shareholders," he said.
Joyce will be replaced in November by current chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson, who will become the first woman to lead the airline.
Across the Tasman Sea, the Qantas result was mirrored by Air New Zealand, which reported an underlying profit of US$349 million.
The result is a huge turnaround from the carrier's pre-tax losses of US$433 million last year.
Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said that after several "volatile" years for the carrier, which he said planned to spend US$2 billion on aircraft investment over the next half-decade, "it's great to be back in the black and standing on our own two feet".