Qantas reverses profit slump as travel picks up

Qantas reverses profit slump as travel picks up

Sydney: Australian airline Qantas said on 21 December that passenger numbers were picking up after plummeting during the economic downturn, helping to reverse a profit slump this year.

Qantas Airways Ltd. expects profit before tax of between Australian dollars 50 million and AU$150 million ($44.5 million-$133 million) in the six months to 31 December, the company said in a statement to the Australian stock exchange.

Qantas earned AU$210 million in profit after tax for the same period a year earlier, but earnings plunged after that. It reported a net profit of AU$117 million for the full year to 30 June, 2009, a decrease of 88% from the previous year.

Qantas said passengers on the company’s two airlines Qantas and the budget carrier Jetstar were 6.9% higher in the year to November.

“Operating conditions have improved when compared to the second half of 2008/09 financial year with passenger volumes and yield improving," the statement said.

In a separate statement, CEO Alan Joyce said Qantas would start adding more flights between key Australian cities in response to rising domestic demand. The airline will add some 340,000 seats on domestic flights in the next 12 months to restore capacity that shrank in response to the economic downturn.

“We are seeing some improvements in domestic demand and so the time is right to begin restoring capacity to ensure we are well placed to meet that demand," Joyce said in the statement.

Qantas declined to give a profit outlook for the full 2009-2010 year, saying economic conditions, passenger demand, fuel prices and other factors were still volatile.

Qantas shares rose on the news and closed more than 5% higher at AU$2.88.