In what has been a horror year for the global aviation industry, Qantas has revealed a staggering $1 billion loss amid the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic which has decimated the global aviation industry.
In a half-yearly trading update posted on Thursday, the nation’s largest airline revealed a $1.08 billion six-month loss.
The airline said the results were a result of ongoing international border closures, as well as strict domestic travel restrictions and state lockdowns.
“These figures are stark but not surprising,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said on Thursday.
“During the half we saw the second wave in Victoria and the strictest domestic travel restrictions since the pandemic began. Virtually all of our international flying and 70 per cent of domestic flying stopped, and with it went three-quarters of our revenue.
Mr Joyce said the airline’s domestic flying operations across Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar generated positive underlying cashflow despite a circa 70 per cent decline in both revenue and capacity.
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The airline’s boss said the pandemic had caused a crisis for employees, with Mr Joyce noting that at least 8,500 employees will lose their job with the carrier because of COVID and another 7,500 will be stood down until international travel recovers.
“A year ago, none of us knew just how big an impact COVID would have on the world, or on aviation,” Mr Joyce said.
“It’s clearly worse than anyone expected.”
During the airline’s yearly results announced last August, which covered just four months of the pandemic, Mr Joyce predicted the airline would be resuming international air travel in July 2021, with a trans-Tasman bubble earlier if possible.
But Australia’s chief health medical officer cast doubt on that timeline in January, with Professor Brendan Murphy pointing to a 2022 overseas travel resumption more likely.
Mr Joyce on Thursday revised his earlier forecast of a July international travel resumption, saying overseas travel will not restart until the end of October 2021, with the exception of a trans-Tasman flying scheduled for July 2021.
Mr Joyce has previously been vocal around the ongoing border closures within Australia, which he described had caused “upheaval and uncertainty” for customers, and for the airline to recover in the domestic market.
“We’ve been hit by another set of border closures. It shows how important it is to have a national framework for domestic borders – so that there is clarity and consistency,” he said in August.
“Despite the recent setbacks, we know conditions will ultimately improve.”
The latest financial update comes after a tough year for the airline after it announced in June it would slash 6000 jobs from its 29,000 workforce.
“We know FY21 will be another tough year,” he said in August.
“Coming out of this crisis, we’ll be the only Australian airline that can fly long haul. We want to expand on that when our balance sheet allows, picking up where we left off with Project Sunrise … including our flights from the eastern states directly to Europe and directly to the east coast of the US.”
More to come