Qantas Group has blamed a hike in fuel prices for a fall in half-year profits.
The group made profits of £424.2 million for the first six months of its financial year, down £97.3 million. The fall is attributed to a £1.09 billion fuel bill, which increased by £226 million.
The result hid record performances from Qantas Domestic, budget brand Jetstar Domestic and the Qantas Loyalty frequent flier scheme and prompted the group to return £272 million to shareholders and pay a dividend of 12 cents a share.
Qantas’s International division was most impacted by the fuel price rise. Revenue there rose by almost 7%, but earnings before tax plummeted 60% to £49 million. Load factors grew one percentage point to 85.5% and capacity up 1.3% “in a market that grew by 3.8%”.
Alan Joyce, Qantas Group chief executive, said: “We’re really pleased with how the business responded to the challenges and opportunities we saw in the half.
“Our dual brand strategy with Qantas and Jetstar in the domestic market meant these segments delivered another set of record earnings.
"Across our network, capacity is broadly meeting demand, including shifts to capitalise on the continued strength of the resources sector.
“Higher oil prices were a significant headwind and we moved quickly to recover as much of the cost as we could.
"That’s easier to achieve in the domestic market than on longer international routes, where fuel is a much bigger factor, and that’s reflected in the segment results we’re reporting today.”
The carrier said “several streams of work” on Project Sunrise – which aims to deliver non-stop flights from the east coast of Australia to New York and London by 2022 – continued in the half and “it remains on-track”.
Qantas is also continuing the retirement programme of its Boeing 747 fleet, with three due to leave this year, leaving seven in the fleet.