QANTAS Group (Jetstar Airways and QANTAS Airways) (Sydney) is changing its corporate organization in the wake of a large (record) financial loss of A$2.8 billion ($2.6 billion) for its fiscal year. The company hopes to attract new foreign investors with these changes.
The main changes is the creation of a holding company that will manage separate domestic and international divisions.
The company also performed a major write down of the value of its aircraft due to currency fluctuations in the past when the aircraft were purchased.
The company issued this full financial report (all figures are in Australian dollars) and its fleet plans.
QANTAS Group has announced an Underlying Loss Before Tax of $646 million and a Statutory Loss After Tax of $2.8 billion for the 12 months ended 30 June 2014.
The Underlying PBT result was driven by the cumulative impact of two years of industry capacity growth ahead of demand, leading to a $566 million decline in FY14 revenue, and by record Australian dollar fuel costs of $4.5 billion – up $253 million from FY13.
In response, QANTAS is driving an earnings recovery and de-leveraging the Group’s balance sheet to shape a profitable future and build long-term shareholder value.
The $2 billion accelerated QANTAS Transformation program announced in February is permanently reducing costs and laying the foundations for sustainable growth in earnings.
Transformation benefits totalled $440 million in FY14, including $204 million of second-half benefits from the accelerated QANTAS Transformation program.
A further $900 million of accelerated transformation projects are in the implementation phase, with more than $600 million of benefits from these projects to be realised in FY15.
To date, projects equivalent to more than half the $2 billion target have been delivered or are underway.
Unit costs were reduced by 3 per cent over the year, accelerating from a 2 per cent reduction in the first half to a 4 per cent reduction in the second half.
QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce said the underlying result had been foreshadowed at the Group’s half-year announcement in February.
“There is no doubt today’s numbers are confronting, but they represent the year that is past,” Mr Joyce said.
“We have now come through the worst. With our accelerated QANTAS Transformation program we are already emerging as a leaner, more focused and more sustainable QANTAS Group.
“There is a clear and significant easing of both international and domestic capacity growth, which will stabilise the revenue environment.
“We expect a rapid improvement in the Group’s financial performance – and a return to Underlying PBT profit in the first half of FY15, subject to factors outside our control.”
Significant one-off costs associated with QANTAS Transformation are recognized in the statutory result, including restructuring and redundancies ($428 million) and primarily non-cash costs relating to early aircraft retirements ($394 million). Of the 5,000 redundancies announced in February, 2,500 have been implemented as at August 28.
At the same time as delivering cost reduction, the Group has taken action to adjust its capacity and network in response to shifts in demand and the competitive environment – while retaining flexibility to make further adjustments if required.
International competitor capacity growth is expected to be 2.4 per cent in the first half of FY15 and domestic market capacity growth is expected to be around 1 per cent, significantly below recent trends for both markets.
Group liquidity at June 30 was $3.6 billion, comprising $3 billion in cash – up around $600 million from the half-year – and $630 million in undrawn committed facilities. With operating cash flow of $1.1 billion, the Group was net free cash flow neutral in FY14.
The Group significantly extended its debt maturity profile through two landmark bond issuances totalling $700 million, with no major unsecured refinancing required before April 2016. Net debt including operating lease liability was reduced by $96 million.
Overall capital investment has been reduced to maximise net free cash flow for debt reduction, while the Group has maintained targeted investment in fleet, product and service to sustain brand and yield premiums for Qantas and Jetstar.
Capital investment was $874 million in FY14. Planned capital investment in FY15 has been reduced from $800 million to $700 million, with a forecast of $800m in FY16.
The Group’s average fleet age remains at a 20-year low of 7.7 years, with 35 per cent of the fleet debt-free. Thirty-one new debt-free aircraft have been added since FY10, including seven in FY14.
Outcome of Structural Review
QANTAS today also announced the outcomes of the structural review that commenced in December 2013.
The Group has identified, valued and will continue to assess opportunities to sell non-core assets such as airport terminals, property and land holdings. Any proceeds from such sales will be used to repay debt.
After detailed strategic and structural assessment of QANTAS Loyalty, the decision has been made to retain this highly valuable business within the existing Group structure. It was determined that there was insufficient justification for a partial sale. QANTAS Loyalty continues to offer major profitable growth opportunities.
No new Jetstar ventures will be established while the Group is focused on transformation. Substantial value exists across the Jetstar Group airlines, to be realised over time.
Since 2012, QANTAS’ international and domestic airlines have reported their financial performance as separate segments, to strengthen accountability and performance. Following the partial repeal of the QANTAS Sale Act, the Group will establish a new holding structure and corporate entity for QANTAS International. This decision will create the long term option for QANTAS International to attract external investment and participate in partnership opportunities in the international aviation market, with a view to achieving efficiencies and improved returns to shareholders.
Fleet write down
Under accounting standards, the decision to establish a new holding structure and corporate entity for QANTAS International requires a change to QANTAS’ Cash Generating Units (CGUs) for impairment testing. The previous ‘QANTAS Brands’ CGU has been split into four separate CGUs: QANTAS International, QANTAS Domestic, QANTAS Loyalty and QANTAS Freight.
After being tested on a standalone basis for the first time, the QANTAS International CGU requires a write down of $2.6 billion. The size of the write down is largely due to the historic cost of aircraft purchased with an average exchange rate from Australian dollars to U.S. dollars of $0.68.
This writedown is a non-cash charge, recognised in the statutory result, with no cash impact on the Group’s or QANTAS International’s operations. It is a writedown to the carrying value of aircraft that QANTAS has no intention to sell and intends to retain in its fleet.
Following the write down, the carrying value of QANTAS International aircraft will be more reflective of the current market value of the fleet, and future depreciation expense will be approximately $200 million per year lower as a result of this change.
Mr Joyce said the Group’s priority now was to push forward with the accelerated QANTAS Transformation program after a positive start.
“After an extremely difficult period, we are focused on building momentum with our turnaround in FY15,” Mr Joyce said.
“Our cash balance and liquidity position is strong, and the Group’s overall financial performance is rapidly improving. We are removing costs to drive earnings growth. And the work we’ve done over recent years to renew our fleet and improve service has been recognised with a string of awards and record customer satisfaction.
“In February we made a deliberate choice to continue investing in core initiatives for customers in order to hold our competitive position, keep our brands strong and maintain a yield premium in a challenging market. As we transform our business at pace, our airlines are providing better service than ever.
“The structural decisions we announce today give the Group maximum scope to attract capital in a fiercely competitive international aviation market. Standing still while the world changes around us is not an option.
“With our structural review complete, we can move forward with certainty.”
Breakdown of Results
QANTAS Domestic reported Underlying EBIT of $30 million, down from $365 million in FY13.
Group Underlying EBIT, including QANTAS Domestic and Jetstar’s domestic operations, was just below $50 million.
The earnings deterioration in FY14 was a result of market capacity increases ahead of demand, weaker demand in the resources and government sectors, price pressure in all industries, unrecovered carbon tax costs and an unfavourable fuel cost of $68 million.
In this volatile market, QANTAS Domestic’s strategy of maintaining a capacity, frequency and product advantage over the competition saw it remain Australia’s premium carrier of choice.
The airline held an 80 per cent share of the domestic corporate travel market by revenue, including 48 new accounts, eight accounts won back from the competition, 10 accounts lost and 182 accounts renewed.
Comparable unit costs were reduced by 3 per cent as QANTAS Transformation benefits began to flow, helping close the cost gap with the competition.
Both customer satisfaction and customer advocacy were at record levels in FY14, helped by QANTAS Domestic’s consistently superior on-time performance.
QANTAS Domestic was Australia’s most punctual major domestic airline every month in FY14 and, as at June 2014, had led the competition for 18 straight months – a key factor in winning and retaining corporate accounts.
QANTAS International reported an Underlying EBIT loss of $497 million, compared with a loss of $246 million in FY13.
The business delivered another strong year of cost reduction, cutting comparable unit costs by 4 per cent, and has now realised more than $400 million of transformation benefits over the past two financial years. However, these benefits were offset in FY14 by competitor capacity growth of 9.5 per cent – well above demand – and record fuel costs.
Fuel price and foreign exchange movements hit Qantas International hardest of any of the Group’s businesses, with an impact of $142 million.
Between FY09 and FY14, competitor capacity growth in the Australian international market was 44 per cent, compared with global growth of 29 per cent. Importantly for the Group’s outlook, capacity expansion is now slowing, with expectations for competitor growth of 2.4 per cent in the first half of FY15.
By optimizing its network and fleet, including the retirement of older Boeing 747s, QANTAS International is cutting unit costs while improving the travel experience for customers. Retiming the QF9/10 services to Dubai and London, for example, has freed up an A380 to operate on the popular Dallas/Fort Worth route and will lead to a significant increase in asset utilization.
Customer satisfaction reached record levels in FY14 and customer advocacy was a record for the year. New lounges were opened in Singapore, Hong Kong and Los Angeles, while new and expanded codeshare agreements were struck with China Southern, LAN Airlines and Bangkok Airways.
These agreements complement the ground-breaking QANTAS-Emirates partnership launched in FY13. The Dubai route continues to receive the highest customer satisfaction anywhere on the QANTAS International network, with more than 2 million QANTAS customers having already travelled through the hub since the partnership was launched.
QANTAS International now offers its biggest ever global network, with 1,200 destinations available with Qantas and its partner airlines.
The Jetstar Group reported an Underlying EBIT loss of $116 million, down from Underlying EBIT of $138 million in FY13.
Controllable unit costs were reduced by 2 per cent. However, these gains were offset by an unfavourable fuel cost of $86 million, a yield decline of $113 million across the highly competitive South East Asian and Australian markets and an increase in associate start-up losses of $20 million. Total associate start-up losses in Asia were $70 million due primarily to the rapid expansion of Jetstar Japan as it consolidates its leading LCC position in the Japanese domestic market.
Jetstar’s domestic business in Australia remained profitable – as it has been every year since launch in 2004 – and continued to play its part in the Group’s successful two-brand strategy.
Customer satisfaction remains at record levels in Jetstar Airways’ domestic and international operations, helped by continued improvement in on-time-performance and the introduction of the Dreamliner on key international routes, including Bali, Phuket and Bangkok.
The Jetstar Group airlines in Asia, in which QANTAS is a minority investor, remain focused on distinct market priorities:
Growth at Jetstar Asia has been suspended in a very challenging Singapore market that saw capacity expand by 23 per cent in FY14, but the business made productivity gains, holds a substantial yield premium to its LCC competitors, and is ranked the nation’s leading LCC. Its performance is expected to improve as capacity growth moderates, with market correction already underway.
Jetstar Japan is Japan’s largest and fastest growing LCC, having carried over 5 million passengers since launch and opened a second domestic base in Osaka. The launch of operations from the second base is improving unit cost performance, as a result of increased asset utilisation from the 24-hour airport in Osaka. With LCCs still holding just 6 per cent of the Japanese domestic market, the business has significant growth potential.
Vietnam’s Jetstar Pacific cut unit costs and increased customer advocacy in a high-growth market. The business has completed its recapitalisation, has begun international services and will expand its fleet from 7 to 10 aircraft by December 2014.
The Board and management of Jetstar Hong Kong continue to work with local regulators towards gaining approval to begin operations.
QANTAS Freight reported Underlying EBIT of $24 million, compared with $36 million in FY13.
Earnings were lower as a result of the sale of Star Track Express in FY13, while global air cargo markets remained challenging. However, the integration of Australian air Express with Qantas Freight is now complete and full run-rate benefits began to flow in the second half of FY14.
The Group expects a return to an Underlying Profit Before Tax in the first half of FY15, subject to factors outside its control.
This is based on the following expectations:
A target of $300 million of Qantas Transformation benefits to be realised in the first half.
A stabilising operating environment, as market capacity growth subsides.
First half fuel costs in line with the first half of FY14.
The repeal of the carbon tax.
Reduced depreciation costs compared with the first half of FY14.
The QANTAS Group provided an update on its fleet and network strategy for FY15 and beyond.
Since FY09, the Group has taken delivery of more than 140 aircraft and retired or returned leases for 80 aircraft, resulting in an average fleet age of 7.7 years – the youngest for two decades and significantly below the average in North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific.
The Group’s focus now is on maximizing the advantages of this young, competitive fleet, and completing the retirement of older aircraft types.
QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce said the Group’s fleet strategy was based on clear, consistent principles:
Increasing fleet utilization in the international and domestic markets.
Putting the right aircraft on the right route.
Offering the best experience in every market for customers.
Realising the cost benefits of new-generation aircraft.
Fleet and Network Changes
Key fleet and network changes completed or announced during FY14 are as follows:
A more than 5 per cent increase in asset utilization by QANTAS International, including the retime of Melbourne-Dubai-London services and allocation of an Airbus A380 to the Dallas/Fort Worth route from September 2014.
Gradual replacement of Boeing 747s with A330s on routes to Asia, with all Sydney-Singapore and Brisbane-Singapore services to be operated by A330s by the end of September 2014.
Early retirement of four Boeing 747-400s, as the Group works towards the retirement of all non-reconfigured Boeing 747-400s by early 2016. This will leave nine, newer Boeing 747-400s fitted with A380-standard interiors.
Four Boeing 787-8s delivered to Jetstar, allowing the transfer of three A330-200s from Jetstar to QANTAS Domestic.
Planning for a reduction in average ‘turn time’ for QANTAS Domestic aircraft to increase utilization, to be implemented during FY15.
The announcement that all the Group’s Boeing 737-800s will be refurbished from mid-2015, expanding total Boeing 737-800 capacity by 3 per cent, along with improvements to inflight entertainment systems.
Retirement of all older Boeing 737-400s (completed in February 2014).
Early retirement of seven Boeing 767-300s, with all aircraft of this type to go by the end of 2014. Current fleet size is 10 aircraft.
More targeted use of QANTAS Domestic’s bigger A330-200s to reflect demand, with a focus on East-West routes to Perth and peak East Coast services.
All of Network Aviation’s seven Brasilia turboprop aircraft have been retired (effective August 2014).
Network aviation now has a single fleet of 12 Fokker F100 jets.
Fleet Renewal and Simplification
In FY14 the Group took delivery of 23 new aircraft, retired 19 older aircraft and returned eight leases.
Under current plans for FY15 the Group will receive 10 new aircraft, retire 18 aircraft and return two leases.
As a result of ongoing fleet retirements and simplification, the Group’s mainline fleet will be reduced from 11 different types in FY13 to seven different types in FY16.
Restructured Order Book
The Group announced in February that more than 50 aircraft on order would be deferred or sold to reflect more efficient fleet utilization and slower capacity growth.
In light of the more subdued domestic capacity outlook and shift to more efficient utilization of narrow-body aircraft:
Two QANTAS Boeing 737-800s, including one sourced from the domestic fleet and one from the trans-Tasman fleet, will be sold during FY15.
A decision has been taken not to renew the leases on two QANTAS Domestic A330-200s, meaning these aircraft will leave the fleet in the first half of FY16.
Five Airbus A320ceos on order for Jetstar Airways have been sold, reflecting the more subdued outlook for domestic capacity in FY15.
Two QANTAS Link Bombardier Q300s will be sold during FY15.
Orders for 21 Airbus A320ceos have been deferred by four years and converted to orders for 21 of the more-fuel-efficient A320neos, meaning that the Group has orders for a total of 99 A320neos.
The Group has pushed back the first of its 50 Boeing 787 options and purchase rights from 2016 to 2017, in line with the completion of the accelerated QANTAS Transformation plan.
As previously announced, the Group has deferred the final eight Airbus A380s on order for QANTAS International, with an ongoing review of delivery dates to meet potential future requirements.
As previously announced, the Group has deferred the final three of 14 Boeing 787-8s on order for Jetstar.
The Group retains significant flexibility in arrangements with manufacturers and lessors should the competitive environment or capacity forecasts change substantially.
Copyright Photo: John Adlard/AirlinersGallery.com. QANTAS is now planning for an early retirement of seven Boeing 767-300s. All 767s will be gone by the end of 2014. The current 767-300 fleet size is 10 aircraft. Boeing 767-338 ER VH-OGD (msn 24407) arrives at the Sydney hub.