Australia’s flagship carrier Qantas Airways reported a record annual profit on Thursday as demand for air travel continues to boom post-pandemic, with the airline announcing a share buyback and plans to bring more planes to the sky.
The carrier announced it had reached an underlying profit before tax of $2.47 billion Australian dollars ($1.6 billion) for the year that ended June 30, from the previous A$1.86 billion loss a year ago, a statement read.
The board has also approved A$500 million buyback which will commence in September.
“We’re a lot better than where we were at the start of the year,” CEO Alan Joyce told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Thursday, attributing the profits to its strong standing in Australia’s airline industry due to low cancellation rates and “on time performance.”
Demand for domestic and international flights have made steady recovery since the pandemic, and the airline is set to increase its fleet.
Shares of Qantas closed more than 1% higher on Thursday.
New planes, new routes
Qantas also announced Thursday that it has placed a multi-billion dollar order for 12 Airbus 350 and 12 Boeing 787 aircraft as it looks to retire older planes.
“We have a commitment to over 170 aircrafts over the next decade, and that allows us to renew our domestic and international fleet,” Joyce said.
“Our balance sheet is as strong as it’s been in decades, and our earnings have made a step level with a billion dollars cost out which means we can afford this fleet replacement growth going forward,” he added.
New flight routes are also in the works, with long-haul direct flights from Sydney to London and New York set to take off in 2025.
Joyce highlighted that the airline was “very brave” to put in an order for new aircrafts during the pandemic as it now “allows us to do things no other airline in the world” can do.
Air fares will fall ‘significantly’
Pent-up demand and revenge travel spending have kept flight prices high, but that’s expected to “come down significantly” in the next 12 months as international capacity will be increased by 6.4 million seats next year, Joyce said.
Domestic air fares are now on average 20% more expensive than in 2019 due to inflation and higher fuel prices, and the cost of international flights has surged by 40% to 50% since 4 years ago.
Joyce will be retiring from his current position in November and is set to be replaced by Vanessa Hudson, the airline’s first female CEO.