Category Archives: QANTAS Group

QANTAS Group secures $1.05 billion in additional funding, secured by seven Dreamliners

QANTAS Group has made this announcement:

The QANTAS Group has completed a new round of debt funding, securing $1.05 billion in additional liquidity to strengthen its position as it manages through the Coronavirus outbreak.

This debt has been secured against part of the Group’s fleet of unencumbered aircraft[1], which were bought with cash in recent years. The loan has a tenure of up to 10 years at an interest rate of 2.75 percent.

David Gray /Getty Images for Qantas

This funding increases the Group’s available cash balance to $2.95 billion with an additional $1 billion undrawn facility remaining available.

The Group’s net debt position remains at the low end of its target range, at $5.1 billion, with no major debt maturities until June 2021. In line with the rest of the QANTAS debt book, the new funding contains no financial covenants.

With a further $3.5 billion in unencumbered assets, the QANTAS Group retains flexibility to increase its cash balance as a prudent measure in the current climate. As previously announced, various steps have been taken to significantly reduce activity levels and costs given the dramatic revenue impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the related travel restrictions on Jetstar and Qantas passenger services.

QANTAS Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “Over the past few years we’ve significantly strengthened our balance sheet and we’re now able to draw on that strength under what are exceptional circumstances. Everything we’re doing at the moment is focused on guaranteeing the long term future of the national carrier, including making sure our people have jobs to return to when we have work for them again.”

[1] Seven of the Group’s 11 wholly-owned Boeing 787-9s have been securitised against this funding.

QANTAS Airways aircraft photo gallery:

 

QANTAS and Jetstar to suspend scheduled international flights, all A380s. 747s and Dreamliners grounded

QANTAS Group has made this announcement:

  • QANTAS and Jetstar to suspend scheduled international flights from late March, following latest government travel advice; some ongoing ad hoc services possible.
  • 60 percent reduction to domestic flights, focused on cutting frequency.
  • Two-thirds of employees to be temporarily stood down to preserve as many jobs as possible longer term.
  • Payment of $201 million shareholder dividend deferred until September 2020.

The QANTAS Group has outlined the customer and employee impact of a huge drop in travel demand triggered by the public health response to the Coronavirus crisis.

Earlier this week, cuts to 90 percent of international flying and about 60 per cent of domestic flying were announced by QANTAS and Jetstar. With the Federal Government now recommending against all overseas travel from Australia, regularly scheduled international flights will continue until late March to assist with repatriation and will then be suspended until at least the end of May 2020. As the national carrier, Qantas is in ongoing discussions with the Federal Government about continuation of some strategic links.

More than 150 aircraft will be temporarily grounded, including all of QANTAS’ A380s, 747s and 787-9s and Jetstar’s 787-8s.  Discussions are progressing with airports and government about parking for these aircraft.

Essential domestic, regional and freight connections will be maintained as much as possible.

QANTAS’ fleet of freighters will continue to be fully utilised. Some domestic passenger aircraft will also be used for freight-only flights to replace lost capacity from regular scheduled services. There is no impact on Qantas Loyalty’s operations as a result of today’s announcement.

INTERNATIONAL NETWORK CHANGES

The QANTAS Group is making the following changes:

  • All regularly scheduled QANTAS and Jetstar international flights from Australia will be suspended from end March until at least end May 2020. Some flights may continue in order to maintain key links, based on ongoing discussions with the Federal Government.
  • Jetstar Asia (Singapore) will suspend all flights from March 23 to at least April 15, 2020.
  • Jetstar Japan has suspended international flights and cut domestic flying.
  • Jetstar Pacific (Vietnam) has suspended international flights and will significantly cut domestic flying.

DOMESTIC NETWORK CHANGES

The Group will maintain connectivity to almost all Australian domestic and regional destinations that QANTAS, QANTAS Link and Jetstar currently operate to. The 60 percent reduction in capacity will come mostly from a significant reduction in flight frequency, but also route suspensions and postponing a number of new route launches.

(The route-by-route detail of these changes can be found here.)

PEOPLE IMPACT

In order to preserve as many jobs as possible longer term, QANTAS and Jetstar will stand down the majority of their 30,000 employees until at least the end of May 2020.

During the stand down, employees will be able to draw down on annual and long service leave and additional support mechanisms will be introduced, including leave at half pay and early access to long service leave. Employees with low leave balances at the start of the stand down will be able to access up to four weeks’ leave in advance of earning it. Unfortunately, periods of leave without pay for some employees are inevitable.

Senior Group Management Executives and the Board have increased their salary reductions from 30 per cent to 100 per cent until at least the end of this financial year, joining the Chairman and Group CEO in taking no pay. Annual management bonuses have also been cancelled.

SHAREHOLDER IMPACT

Given the current extraordinary circumstances, a decision has been made to defer payment of the shareholder dividend announced on 20 February from 9 April until 1 September 2020. This is in addition to the cancellation of the off-market buy back, previously announced.

CEO COMMENTARY

Comments from Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce:

“The efforts to contain the spread of Coronavirus have led to a huge drop in travel demand, the likes of which we have never seen before. This is having a devastating impact on all airlines.

“We’re in a strong financial position right now, but our wages bill is more than $4 billion a year. With the huge drop in revenue we’re facing, we have to make difficult decisions to guarantee the future of the national carrier.

“The reality is we’ll have 150 aircraft on the ground and sadly there’s no work for most of our people. Rather than lose these highly skilled employees who we’ll need when this crisis passes, we are instead standing down two-thirds of our 30,000 employees until at least the end of May.”

“Most of our people will be using various types of paid leave during this time, and we’ll have a number of support options in place. We’re also talking to our partners like Woolworths about temporary job opportunities for our people.

“This is a very hard set of circumstances for our people, as it is for lots of parts of the community right now.

“No airline in the world is immune to this, with the world’s leading carriers making deep cuts to flying schedules and jobs. Our strong balance sheet means we’ve entered this crisis in better shape than most and we’re taking action to make sure we can ride this out.

“Since this crisis started, there has been overwhelming support from our customers. That gives me even more confidence that we’ll get through this,” added Mr Joyce.

CUSTOMER INFORMATION

Customer contact centres are currently experiencing long wait times from people seeking to change their travel plans as a result of the Coronavirus. To help manage the demand we ask that customers only call if they have travel within the next 48 hours.

To avoid further inconvenience, we’re converting all bookings on cancelled flights to a travel credit, which can be used anywhere on our network.  Affected customers will be contacted directly from next Monday.  Any customers travelling before the end of May who wish to change their booking are also eligible to receive a travel credit instead.

If flights were booked through a travel agency or third-party website (e.g. Webjet, Booking.com), customers will need to contact them directly to make changes to their booking.

QANTAS Airways aircraft photo gallery:

QANTAS Group makes drastic cuts leaving only two Airbus A380s flying

The QANTAS Group has announced further cuts to its international flying, reducing capacity by almost a quarter for the next six months.

The latest cuts follow the spread of the Coronavirus into Europe and North America over the past fortnight, as well as its continued spread through Asia, which has resulted in a sudden and significant drop in forward travel demand.

These additional changes will bring the total international capacity reduction for QANTAS and Jetstar from 5 percent to 23 percent versus the same time last year and extend these cuts until mid-September 2020.

The biggest reductions remain focussed on Asia (now down 31 percent compared with the same period last year). Capacity reductions to the United States (down 19 percent), the UK (down 17 percent) and Trans-Tasman (down 10 percent) will also be made in line with forward booking trends.

CHANGES TO SERVICES

Rather than exit routes altogether, QANTAS will use smaller aircraft and reduce the frequency of flights to maintain overall connectivity.

This approach results in eight of the airline’s largest aircraft, the Airbus A380, grounded until mid-September. A further two A380s are undergoing scheduled heavy maintenance and cabin upgrades, leaving two of its A380s flying.

In response to strong customer demand for the direct Perth-London service, the existing Sydney-Singapore-London return service (QF1 and QF2) will be temporarily re-routed to become a Sydney-Perth-London service from April 20, 2020.

The start of QANTAS’ new Brisbane-Chicago route will be delayed from April 15 to mid-September.

Jetstar will make significant cuts to its international network, including suspending flights to Bangkok and reducing flights from Australia to Vietnam and Japan by almost half. Jetstar’s daily Gold Coast to Seoul flight was suspended last week.

(See table below for more detail of international network changes.)

Domestically, QANTAS and Jetstar capacity reductions will be increased from 3 per cent to 5 per cent[1] through to mid-September 2020, in line with broader economic conditions.

In total, this is the equivalent of grounding 38 Qantas and Jetstar aircraft[2] across the international and domestic network. The Group’s total capacity reduction changes from 4 per cent (announced on February 20) to 17 percent for the last quarter of FY20.

Given the reduced flying across the QANTAS Group fleet, maintenance work will be brought forward where possible to make best use of this time.

IMPACT ON FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE

The Group is taking decisive action to mitigate the significant adverse impact of Coronavirus on demand, including longer range capacity cuts that improve the business’ ability to reduce costs. However, given the dynamic and uncertain nature of this situation, it is not possible to provide meaningful guidance at this time on the size of that impact on Group earnings for the remainder of FY20.

In line with its Financial Framework the Group is in a strong position, with low debt levels and a long debt maturity profile, $1.9 billion in cash plus a further $1 billion in undrawn facilities and $4.9 billion in unencumbered assets.

To help maintain this position in the face of current uncertainty, the Board has decided to cancel the off-market buyback announced in February, which will preserve $150 million in cash. The interim dividend of 13.5 cents per share will still be paid on 9 April.

COST REDUCTION MEASURES

In addition to cutting capacity, a number of cost reduction measures will be triggered across the QANTAS Group, including:

  • Annual management bonuses set to zero for FY20.
  • For the remainder of FY20:
    • QANTAS Chairman will take no fees.
    • Group CEO will take no salary.
    • QANTAS Board will take a 30 percent reduction in fees.
    • Group Executive Management will take a 30 percent pay cut.
  • Freeze of all non-essential recruitment and consultancy work.
  • Asking all QANTAS and Jetstar employees to take paid or unpaid leave in light of reduced flying activity.

A material drop in fuel price has provided a significant cost benefit in addition to the saving from lower consumption. The Group’s total fuel cost is now expected to be $3.74b[3] (excluding the benefit of capacity reductions compared with the same time last year) with limited participation to further falls in Brent crude prices.

CEO COMMENTARY

Announcing the changes, QANTAS Group CEO Alan Joyce, said: “In the past fortnight we’ve seen a sharp drop in bookings on our international network as the global coronavirus spread continues.

“We expect lower demand to continue for the next several months, so rather than taking a piecemeal approach we’re cutting capacity out to mid-September. This improves our ability to reduce costs as well as giving more certainty to the market, customers and our people.

“We retain the flexibility to cut further or to put capacity back in as this situation develops.

“The QANTAS Group is a strong business in a challenging environment. We have a robust balance sheet, low debt levels and most of our profit comes from the domestic market. We’re in a good position to ride this out, but we need to take steps to maintain this strength.

“When revenue falls you need to cut costs, and reducing the amount of flying we do is the best way for us to do that.

“Less flying means less work for our people, but we know coronavirus will pass and we want to avoid job losses wherever possible. We’re asking our people to use their paid leave and, if they can, consider taking some unpaid leave given we’re flying a lot less.

“Annual management bonuses have been set to zero and the Group Executive team will take a significant pay cut for the rest of this financial year.

“It’s hard to predict how long this situation will last, which is why we’re moving now to make sure we remain well positioned. But we know it will pass, and we’ll be well positioned to take advantage of opportunities when it does.”

ADVICE FOR CUSTOMERS

QANTAS and Jetstar will contact customers affected by these changes in the coming week. Customers who booked via a travel agent (including online travel agents) will be contacted by their agent rather than the airline.

Typically, customers flying internationally will be offered an alternative flight via another capital city or a partner airline, or an alternative day. Disruption to domestic passengers is expected to be minimal given the continued high frequency on most routes.

The latest information will be published on Qantas and Jetstar websites. Customers are encouraged to check this before calling the airline.

To provide customers with greater flexibility and confidence when they book, Qantas and Jetstar will waive change fees for new international bookings made from today until the end of March, if customers change their travel plans[4]. This applies to travel commencing up to June 30, 2020 and is limited to one free change per customer. Customers will need to pay any fare difference.

SUMMARY OF QANTAS GROUP NETWORK CHANGES

Route Change Effective dates (until mid-Sept 2020)
Asia
Sydney-Tokyo (Haneda) B747 replaced by smaller A330 30 March
Melbourne-Singapore  – 7 return flights per week cancelled (QF 37/38)

– B787 replaced by larger A330 on 7 return flights per week (QF 35/36)

– 20 April– 4 May
North America 
Brisbane-Chicago Route launch postponed Was to start 15 April
Brisbane-San Francisco Route suspended (3 return flights per week) 18 April
Sydney-San Francisco B787 replaced by larger B747 18 April
Melbourne-San Francisco Route suspended (4 return flights per week) 18 April
Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth A380 replaced by smaller B787 20 April
Melbourne-Los Angeles A380 replaced by smaller B787 1 June
Sydney-Vancouver Seasonal service suspended (3 return flights per week) June and July only
United Kingdom
Sydney-London (Heathrow) – Flights to operate via Perth (instead of Singapore)then non-stop to London.

– Perth-London to become double daily as a result.

– A380 replaced by smaller B787

20 April
South America
Sydney-Santiago Delaying planned B787 introduction and continuing with B747 1 August

Note: The suspension of the A380 and First Class from Singapore routes will see the QANTAS First Lounge in Singapore close temporarily, with customers instead invited to use the adjacent QANTAS Business Lounge.

Note: QANTAS Boeing 787 has approx. 250 less seats than an A380.  

 

QANTAS – Extension of previously announced cancellations

(Until mid-Sept 2020 unless stated)

Route Change
Sydney-Shanghai Route continues to be suspended until at least mid-July (7 flights per week)(sole route to mainland China)
Sydney-Hong Kong Reduced from 14 to 7 return flights per week
Melbourne-Hong Kong Reduced from 7 to 4 return flights per week (1 additional cancellation per week from previously announced cuts)
Brisbane-Hong Kong Reduced from 7 to 3 return flights per week (1 additional cancellation per week from previously announced cuts)

 Note: Further capacity reductions will also be made on flights to Japan and New Zealand, with other Asian routes under evaluation.

 

Jetstar Airways – Summary of New Changes

Routes Change Effective date (until end June but may be extended)
Asia
Melbourne-Bangkok Route suspended 1 May
Sydney/Melbourne-Ho Chi Minh Flights reduced by over 50 per cent 1 May
Japan routes Flights reduced by almost 40 per cent 20 May
Brisbane-Bali Minor flight reductions 1 May

Note: Further capacity reductions will also be made on flights to New Zealand, with other Asian routes are under evaluation.

 

Jetstar Airlines in Asia – Summary of changes

Jetstar Asia (based in Singapore) will cut capacity by almost 40 percent with reductions in frequencies across the network. Singapore to Taipei and Osaka routes will be suspended.

Jetstar Japan has suspended its international services to Hong Kong, Taipei and Shanghai until at least the end of May and will reduce flights to Manila. Further reductions will be made to its Japanese domestic network.

Jetstar Pacific (based in Vietnam) has also suspended all international routes to the end of April, with the exception of Ho Chi Minh-Bangkok where flights have been halved. Further reductions are being made to its Vietnamese domestic network.

[1] Versus Q4 FY19.

[2] Includes seven Jetstar Asia (Singapore) aircraft and nine aircraft across Jetstar Japan and Jetstar Pacific (Vietnam).

[3] Compared with estimate of $3.85b at 20 February 2020.

[4] Changes need to be made at least three days before the date of travel.

 

QANTAS Airways aircraft photo gallery:

Air France-KLM Group steps up cooperation with QANTAS Group

Air France-KLM released this statement:

Loyalty Programs Collaborate to Enhance Customer Value Proposition

After the resumption of codeshare cooperation in 2018, offering best-in-class solutions to fly between Europe and Australia via Singapore and Hong Kong, the Air France-KLM Group and Qantas Group have continued working on further cooperation opportunities for the benefit of their respective customers.

Starting December 9, 2019 members of Flying Blue, the loyalty program used by the airlines of the Air France-KLM Group, can earn1 miles and XP (Experience Points) as well as spend miles on Qantas flights.

Flying Blue elite members will also have access to additional benefits such as priority airport services and additional checked baggage allowance when traveling on Qantas.

New Codeshare with Jetstar

By the end of December, both Air France and KLM plan to launch a codeshare cooperation with Jetstar Airways and Jetstar Asia Airways, two airlines which are part of the Qantas Group portfolio, connecting respectively in Denpasar and Singapore, thus expanding customer travel options to Southeast Asia and Australia.

Air France and KLM customers will benefit from a seamless travel experience with single ticket itineraries and through-checked baggage.

Under this agreement, Air France and KLM customers will have access to a wider range of destinations in Southeast Asia. Connecting in Singapore from Amsterdam or Paris, Air France and KLM will place their code on 12 additional destinations2 operated by Jetstar Asia Airways: Da Nang (Vietnam), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Denpasar (Indonesia), Medan (Indonesia), Surabaya (Indonesia), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Siem Reap (Cambodia), Kula Lumpur (Malaysia), Penang (Malaysia), Phuket (Thailand), Yangon (Myanmar), and Darwin (Australia).

During the winter 2019 season, KLM plans to implement codeshares with Jetstar Airways providing itineraries beyond its Denpasar flight to four destinations in Australia: Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney2.

Also expected during December 2019, Air France, KLM and Qantas will extend their codeshare to flights connecting in Bangkok, on top of the existing codeshare via Singapore and Hong Kong, and providing a third route to connect Amsterdam and Paris with Sydney.

Additionally, the two airline groups continue to explore opportunities like potential cooperation with airport lounges.

(1) Earning of miles and XP is only possible on Qantas operated flights that are marketed by Air France, KLM or Qantas
(2) All subject to governmental authorizations

Jetstar Airways aircraft photo gallery:

QANTAS Group to slash carbon emissions

100 Centenary Scheme - "QANTAS Time Capsule Towards 2120"

The QANTAS Group will reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in a major expansion of the airline’s commitment to a more sustainable aviation industry.

The national carrier will:

  • Immediately double the number of flights being offset
  • Cap net emissions from 2020 onwards
  • Invest $50 million over 10 years to help develop a sustainable aviation fuel industry

 

CUTTING NET CARBON EMISSION

This announcement means that Qantas is the only airline group to commit to cap its net emissions at 2020 levels, and the second to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.

In total, these commitments are the most ambitious carbon emissions targets of any airline group globally.

Qantas, Jetstar*, QantasLink and Qantas Freight will offset all growth in emissions from domestic and international operations from 2020.

This includes offsetting all net emissions from Project Sunrise, the carrier’s plan to operate non-stop flights from the east coast of Australia to London and New York, should the project proceed. This will also extend to domestic flying, meaning that growth on key routes like Melbourne-Sydney will be carbon neutral.

The aviation industry, which contributes around 2 per cent of global CO2 emissions, has committed to halving emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. It was the first industry to make such commitments. Qantas had signed up to those commitments but will now exceed them.

Qantas will work with industry, research institutions and governments to develop the long-term solutions to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation industry over the next three decades.

OFFSETTING FLIGHTS

Qantas currently operates the largest carbon offset program in the aviation industry, with around 10 per cent of customers booking flights on Qantas.com choosing to offset their flights.

From today, Qantas and Jetstar will double the number of flights offset by matching every dollar spent by customers who tick the box to fly carbon neutral. By matching our customers’ commitment, we expect even more people to offset their emissions.

This additional investment will see Qantas Future Planet, which is already the largest private sector buyer of Australian carbon credits, support more conservation and environmental projects in Australia and around the world.

Existing projects include protecting the Great Barrier Reef, working with Indigenous communities to reduce wildfires in Western Australia and securing over 7000 hectares of native Tasmanian forest.

SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL

Qantas will invest $50 million over the next ten years to help develop a sustainable aviation fuel industry.

Sustainable aviation fuel can reduce carbon emissions by eighty per cent compared to traditional jet fuel, but are currently almost double the price.

Qantas will work with governments and private sector partners to support the development of sustainable aviation fuel in Australia and overseas to make it more viable and increase demand throughout the industry.

The national carrier will also continue to reduce its emissions through continued investment in more fuel efficient aircraft, more efficient operations such as single-engine taxiing, and smarter flight planning to reduce fuel burn.

Qantas is on track to replace its Boeing 747 fleet by the end of 2020 with the more fuel-efficient B787 Dreamliners, which burn 20 per cent less fuel than aircraft of a similar size. Jetstar’s A321neo (LR) aircraft,
which begin arriving next year, use 15 per cent less fuel than the aircraft they are replacing.

The Qantas Group continues to work with aircraft and engine manufacturers on next-generation technology that will deliver a further step-change in emissions reduction – however, innovations such as electric aircraft engines are still some time away.

CEO COMMENTS

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said these commitments would make Qantas a leader in the aviation industry’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

“We recognise that airlines have a responsibility to cut emissions and combat climate change. We’ve already made some good progress, especially by investing in newer aircraft that have a much smaller carbon footprint.

“We want to do more, and faster. We’re effectively doubling our carbon offsetting program from today and we’re capping our net emissions across Qantas and Jetstar from 2020 so that all new flying will be carbon
neutral.

“Qantas offsets all of its own travel needs and so do many of our customers. By matching their efforts, we’re hoping it will encourage even more people to offset and the program will keep growing.

“These short-term actions will go towards a longer-term goal of being completely net carbon neutral by 2050. It’s ambitious, but achievable.

“Innovation is going to be key. We’re investing $50 million to hopefully kickstart a sustainable aviation fuel industry in Australia. We know from our own trials that the technology works but we need to get to a scale of production where it’s a practical substitute.

“Concerns about emissions and climate change are real, but we can’t lose sight of the contribution that air travel makes to society and the economy. The industry has already come a long way in cutting its footprint and the solution from here isn’t to simply ‘fly less’ but to make it more sustainable.

“We’re doing this because it’s the responsible thing to do, but hopefully it will also encourage more people to choose Qantas and Jetstar because of the action we’re taking,” added Mr Joyce.

Copyright Photo: Gordon Reid via John Adlard.

In other news, Qantas has completed precautionary inspections of thirty-three 737NG aircraft, checking for hairline cracks that have appeared in some high cycle aircraft worldwide.

The cracks relate to the ‘pickle fork’ structure, which is located between the wing and fuselage. Qantas brought forward these precautionary checks by up to seven months and completed them within seven days.

Of the 33 of Qantas’ 737 aircraft that required inspection, three were found to have a hairline crack in the pickle fork structure. These aircraft have been removed from service for repair.

The aircraft had all completed around 27,000 cycles. Any aircraft with more than 22,600 cycles was inspected, in line with advice from regulators.

Qantas will minimise any customer impact from having these aircraft temporarily out of service.

Qantas is working with Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Boeing to resolve this issue, which involves some complex repair work. All three aircraft are expected to return to service before the end of the year.

CEO of Qantas Domestic, Andrew David said: “As people would expect with Qantas, we’ve gone above what was required to check our aircraft well ahead of schedule.

“We would never fly an aircraft that wasn’t safe. Even where these hairline cracks are present they’re not an immediate risk, which is clear from the fact the checks were not required for at least seven months.

“Unfortunately, there were some irresponsible comments from one engineering union, which completely misrepresented the facts. Those comments were especially disappointing given the fantastic job our engineers have done to inspect these aircraft well ahead of schedule, and the priority they give to safety every day of the week,” added Mr David.

Qantas will continue to monitor aircraft that are in scope of the airworthiness directive as inspections fall due.

Top Copyright Photo: QANTAS Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner VH-ZNJ (msn 66074) (100 Centenary) PAE (Nick Dean). Image: 948008.

QANTAS Airways aircraft slide show:

QANTAS Group posts record revenue, strong profit in FY 2019

QANTAS Group posts record revenue, strong profit in FY2019:

  • Underlying Profit Before Tax: $1.30 billion (down 17%)
  • Statutory Profit Before Tax: $1.27 billion (down 6%)
  • Record revenue for the Group
  • Statutory Earnings Per Share: 54.6c (flat on last year)
  • Return On Invested Capital: 18.4%
  • Net free cash flow: $1,244 million
  • Shareholder return of 13 cents per share fully franked dividend, plus an off-market buyback of up to 79.7 million shares
  • $1,250 staff travel bonus for 25,000 non-executive employees, worth $32 million
  • The Qantas Group has achieved an Underlying Profit Before Tax of $1.30 billion and a Statutory Profit Before tax of $1.27 billion for the Financial Year 2019.

While the Underlying result was 17 per cent lower compared with the Group’s record profit in FY18, it was impacted by an $614 million increase in fuel costs from higher oil prices and a further $154 million of the foreign exchange impacts on non-fuel net expenditure.

The result was also impacted by a $92 million non-cash expense on provisions for items including employee leave entitlements – part of an accounting requirement that means this charge increases when interest rates fall.

All key parts of the Group’s portfolio remain strongly profitable, generating significant cashflow that allows for ongoing investment as well as shareholder returns.

CEO COMMENTARY

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the FY19 performance was particularly positive given mixed market conditions.

“This result shows the strength of our individual businesses but also the strength of our portfolio as a whole. Even with headwinds like fuel costs and foreign exchange, we remain one of the best performing airline groups in the world.

“Our performance is the result of having the right strategy and the ability to deliver it.

“Domestically, our dual brand approach with Qantas and Jetstar continued to give us a leadership position in the corporate, premium leisure and budget travel categories, all with strong margins.

“Qantas International has improved its competitive position by evolving its fleet, network and partnerships. We’ve carved out some unique advantages like the Perth-London route and there is a lot of value still to be unlocked through our alliances.

“Qantas Loyalty returned to double-digit earnings growth in the second half, thanks to new revenue streams from insurance and financial services as well as improvements to the Frequent Flyer program.

“The simple message from this result is that the Qantas Group has solid foundations to keep investing and innovating, and to keep rewarding our shareholders as a result.

“We’re pleased to reward around 25,000 of our people with a $1,250 staff travel bonus each, which would take a family of four from Sydney to Honolulu on Jetstar. Since 2015, we’ve now set aside more than $340 million in cash and staff travel bonuses for non-executives.

“Looking ahead, the overall market remains mixed. Domestically, we’re seeing weakness in the price sensitive leisure market but premium leisure demand is steady.

“Overall demand from our corporate customers is flat, with continued strength in the resources sector offsetting weaker demand from other industries, like financial services and telecommunications. In competitive terms we’re growing our overall share of the corporate and SME sectors.

“Internationally, the outlook remains positive for premium international travel demand, helped by a reduction in broader market capacity.

“Our anticipated flat Group domestic capacity for the first half of FY20 reflects the mixed environment, and we’ll continue to monitor our settings against demand and our strategic position,” said Mr Joyce.

GROUP DOMESTIC

Group Domestic delivered an Underlying EBIT of $1.03 billion, down by 4 per cent. Unit Revenue from Qantas and Jetstar’s domestic operations grew by a combined 4 per cent on flat capacity, as fares caught up to higher oil costs.

Qantas Domestic, which achieved its second-highest Underlying Profit, increased Unit Revenue by 5 per cent and seat factors were steady at 78 per cent.

Qantas’ share of both the corporate and small business markets grew, helping to offset some broader weakness in travel demand. Qantas maintained a 15 point customer satisfaction premium to its domestic competitor.

The resources market continued to strengthen, with capacity added in Western Australia and Queensland contributing to a $47 million revenue increase from this part of the market.

Jetstar’s domestic Unit Revenue increased by 3 per cent and ancillary revenue per passenger rose by 12 per cent, driven largely by take-up of new baggage options and Club Jetstar reaching 340,000 members. The airline’s upgrade of its A320 cabins is now complete, delivering a 3 per cent capacity improvement per aircraft.

As a low fares leader, the Jetstar Group sold almost two-thirds of its fares for less than $100.

GROUP INTERNATIONAL

Qantas International delivered an Underlying EBIT of $285 million, down by 28 per cent. There was a significant improvement in second half performance, as competitor capacity and overall fare levels adjusted to higher fuel prices.

Unit Revenue grew by 6 per cent compared with FY18 and seat factor grew by 2 percentage points to 86 per cent.

Network and fleet changes continue to deliver benefits, with particularly strong performances on the Perth-London route and Singapore hub services. Competitive pressure on the Pacific remained intense but Qantas’ performance is expected to improve following implementation of the American Airlines joint business and the start of new routes, including Brisbane-Chicago in FY20.

Qantas Freight continued to provide steady earnings, which will be supported going forward by an expanded seven-year contract with Australia Post.

Jetstar’s international services achieved significant Unit Revenue growth, with solid performance on key leisure routes such as Bali and Japan.

Jetstar Japan delivered a record profit[1] (opens in new window) and Jetstar Pacific remained profitable, while Jetstar Asia faced challenges due to a significant increase to airport charges and taxes in its home market of Singapore. Jetstar’s regional services in New Zealand were loss-making and market conditions are being monitored closely.

QANTAS LOYALTY

Qantas Loyalty achieved a record Underlying EBIT of $374 million, up 8 per cent.

Earnings growth was driven by the core Frequent Flyer Program as well as new insurance and financial products.

Total points redeemed grew by 12 per cent compared with a 5 per cent increase in membership. High levels of engagement with the program are expected to keep improving as the recent changes to redemption costs and flight availability take full effect from September 2019. Already, there has been a 24 per cent increase in Classic flight redemptions since these changes were announced in June.

The Qantas Business Rewards program, which helps drive airline market share in the SME segment as well as earnings from Loyalty partners, reached 250,000 members.

Growth of credit cards that earn Qantas Points continued to outperform the broader market[2] (opens in new window) and Qantas’ own premium cards performed well. Qantas health insurance customers grew by 46 per cent[3] (opens in new window), helped by one of the lowest average premium increases in the market.

FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK

The Group continued to deliver on the three pillars of its financial framework.

Operating cashflow was strong at $2.81 billion and net debt is now below the target range[4] (opens in new window) at $4.7 billion. Net capital expenditure was $1.6 billion after adjusting for cash received from the sale of Qantas Catering and the Melbourne Domestic Terminal lease. This resulted in net free cashflow of $1.24 billion.

Ongoing transformation delivered $452 million of revenue and cost benefits.

The Group’s total fuel cost was $3.85 billion, an increase of $614 million on FY18. Ongoing efficiency measures, including fleet modernisation and a new flight planning system, drove a 2.2 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency.

The Group incurred $374 million income tax on its FY19 profit.

REWARDING SHAREHOLDERS

The Qantas Board has announced a fully franked dividend totaling $204 million dollars or 13 cents per share to be paid on 23 September 2019 with a record date of 3 September 2019, as well as an off market buy-back of up to 79.7 million shares. Detail on the buyback, which is worth approximately $400 million at yesterday’s share price, is available via https://www.investor.qantas.com.

This latest buyback, once complete, will bring the total reduction in shares on issue by nearly one third since 2015 – the most of any company in the ASX All Ordinaries in the past five years.

Surplus capital will continue to be assessed at each half, in-line with our financial framework. The first tranche of this surplus will be allocated to a base dividend, which is currently assessed at $400 million a year. Adjusting for the EPS benefits from the buyback announced today, this equates to 27 cents a share per annum.

INVESTING FOR THE FUTURE

The Qantas Group continues to invest for the future, with key initiatives including:

  • Today’s announcement of three research flights for Project Sunrise before the end of calendar 2019. Operating non-stop from New York and London to Sydney using Qantas’ existing 787-9s, and made possible by carrying a small number of people to minimise weight, the flights will test different approaches to crew and passenger wellbeing as part of designing unique ultra-long haul services. The research flights, which are re-routed delivery flights, will have their emissions fully offset. The final business case for Project Sunrise has several hurdles to pass ahead of a final decision in December 2019. (See separate release and video (opens in new window).)
  • A complete refurbishment of Qantas’ 12 Airbus A380 aircraft, including upgrades to each class of cabin, a new on-board lounge and 27 per cent increase in premium seating. Work on the first aircraft is underway, which is expected to be in service by September.
  • Delivery of six additional 787-9s for Qantas International from October 2019, taking the total fleet to 14 aircraft.
  • Increasing lounge capacity in Qantas’ Singapore hub by 60 per cent, including an expansion to the existing Business Lounge and opening of a new First lounge.
  • Rolling out $25 million of improvements to Frequent Flyer, including 1 million more reward seats per annum, reducing some carrier charges for points bookings by up to 50 per cent and cutting the points required for international Economy seats by up to 10 per cent.
  • Progress towards cutting 100 million single-use plastics by end-2020 and eliminating 75 per cent of waste to landfill by end-2021.
  • Preparations to introduce the A321 NEO to Jetstar, with 18 aircraft to begin arriving from mid-2020. 

OUTLOOK

The Group continues to focus on matching capacity with demand, together with growing revenue to recover higher fuel costs.

The Group’s current operating expectations for FY20 are[5] (opens in new window):

  • Total fuel bill is expected to increase to ~A$3.95 billion (up ~$100 million) and is fully hedged.
  • Group capacity is expected to increase by ~1 per cent in in the first half of FY20. Group Domestic is expected to be flat to slightly down. Group International is expected to increase by ~1.5 per cent while competitor capacity is expected to decline by ~1 per cent in the first half of FY20.
  • Inflation impact on Group expenditure (including wage growth) expected to be ~$250 million.
  • Transformation benefits are expected to be ~$400 million.
  • Gross capital expenditure expected to be $2.0 billion for FY20.
  • Net underlying depreciation and amortisation expected to be ~$130 million higher than FY19.

[1] (opens in new window) Record AUD profit share.

[2] (opens in new window) Qantas Points earning credit cards includes co-branded credit cards and Qantas Premier cards. Based on RBA credit and card charges statistics at June 2019 and Qantas internal analysis.

[3] (opens in new window) Qantas/ NIB internal analysis and estimates.

[4] (opens in new window) Net Debt Target Range as at 30 June 2019 is $5.2 billion to $6.5 billion.

[5] (opens in new window) See Investor Presentation for detailed outlook assumptions.

QANTAS backs the Airbus A321XLR with an agreement for 36 aircraft

QANTAS Airways Limited is backing Airbus’ new extended range A321XLR with an agreement covering 36 aircraft. This includes the conversion of 26 existing A320neo Family orders plus a new firm order for 10 A321XLRs.

The aircraft will allow the QANTAS Group, which includes low-cost carrier Jetstar, to improve its network and fleet flexibility to better serve point-to-point markets in Australia, Asia and the South Pacific.

Images: Airbus.