Qantas has admitted it is unlikely to restart international flights before July 2021 owing to the ongoing global effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The admission came as the group on Thursday (20 August) confirmed it had sunk Aus $2.7 billion into the red following "a near total collapse in travel demand".
It also disclosed full-year (year to 30 June) underlying profit down 91% year-on-year to Aus $124 million, and an Aus $4 billion second-half revenue hit.
Group chief executive Alan Joyce described the year as the carrier’s single "most challenging" to date, shaped by "extraordinary events" that had conspired to create "the worst trading conditions" in Qantas’s 100-year history.
"To put it simply, we’re an airline that can’t really fly to many places – at least for now," said Joyce.
"The impact of that is clear; Covid punched an Aus $4 billion hole in our revenue and an Aus $1.2 billon hole in our underlying profit in what would have otherwise been another very strong result."
Reflecting on the aviation trading and operating environment, Joyce said the devastating impact of coronavirus had made it a simple "question of survival" for many airlines.
In its trading update, the group remarked its international network – with the exception of Trans Tasman operations to New Zealand – was "unlikely to restart before July 2021".
Earlier this year, the group detailed a three-year recovery plan, designed to create "a stronger platform for future profitability" and to "preserve as many jobs as possible", on which it said on Thursday it had mage "significant progress".
Qantas will continue to stand down, or furlough, around 20,000 employees across the group, allowing it to retain "core skills"; it also expects around 4,000 or "at least" 6,000 planned redundancies to be finalised by the end of September.
Other efforts include bringing forward retirement of its Boeing 747 fleet; placing – to date – more than 100 aircraft in long-term storage; and raising an additional Aus $1.4 billion in equity to boost liquidity to $4.5 billion.
"Covid will continue to have a huge impact on our business, and we’re expecting a significant underlying loss in full-year 2021," Joyce added.
“Looking further ahead, we’re in a good position to ride out this storm and make the most of the recovery."