Qantas targets international travel from December as losses decline

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Qantas planes are seen at Kingsford Smith International Airport, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Sydney, Australia, March 18, 2020. REUTERS / Loren Elliott

  • Loss slightly lower than in the previous year
  • Underlying EBITDA in line with market expectations
  • To bring back 5 A380s earlier than planned

SYDNEY, Aug.26 (Reuters) – Qantas Airways Ltd (QAN.AX) said on Thursday it was preparing for the resumption of international travel with countries with high vaccination rates in December, reporting a slightly smaller annual loss of 1 , 73 billion Australian dollars (1.26 billion dollars). ).

The airline, which grounded its international fleet in March 2020 due to border closures, said it plans to bring back five of its 12 Airbus SE (AIR.PA) A380 super-jumbos by mid- 2022 to fly to the United States and Great Britain, a year earlier than expected.

It’s a sign of hope for travel to the Asia-Pacific region, where borders are largely closed and international travel 95% below pre-COVID levels, although the Qantas plan is dependent on decisions of the government.

Australia set a target last month for 80% of adults to be fully vaccinated for a calibrated reopening of its international borders. Read more

At present, more than half of the population is confined due to COVID-19 outbreaks and just over 30% are fully vaccinated, although forecasts indicate that the country could reach 80% by the end of the year as more doses of imported vaccines arrive.

“When Australia meets these critical vaccination targets later this year and the likelihood of future border blockages and closures recedes, we expect demand for domestic travel to increase and international travel to gradually return.” , said Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.

Pending government decisions, Qantas said it expects flights to countries with high vaccination rates like Singapore, Japan, the United States, Britain and, hopefully, New Zealand resume from mid-December.

Flights to places with lower vaccination rates like Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and South Africa would resume no earlier than April 2022, he added.

“One of the biggest unknowns is the quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers entering Australia,” Joyce said. “If it’s 14 days in a hotel, demand levels will be very low. A shorter period with additional testing and the ability to isolate at home will see a lot more people traveling.”

The airline predicts that international capacity will reach 30-40% of pre-COVID levels in the third quarter and 50-70% in the fourth quarter.

Qantas reported underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of A $ 410 million for the 12 months ended June 30, in line with the average figure expected by 11 analysts polled by Refinitiv.

The statutory loss of A $ 1.73 billion, including write-downs and restructuring charges, was higher than last year’s loss of A $ 1.96 billion.

The airline reported cash of A $ 3.8 billion as of June 30, down A $ 200 million from April 30.

The domestic market had performed strongly in the fourth quarter, when state borders, often closed during small outbreaks of COVID-19, were opened wide.

But the country’s most populous city, Sydney, has been stranded since late June and the airline said this month it was temporarily idling around 2,500 unpaid employees for at least two months as it slashed capacity by due to a drop in demand. Read more

Qantas said recent outbreaks and the suspension of a travel bubble with New Zealand are expected to reduce the company’s underlying EBITDA by about A $ 1.4 billion in the first half of the year.

National capacity is expected to reach 53% of pre-COVID levels in the second quarter, and then around 110% of pre-COVID levels in the second half of the year.

($ 1 = AU $ 1.3744)

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Neil Fullick and Stephen Coates

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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