THE Qantas Group posted its first annual loss since being privatised 17 years ago, forcing the airline to put its fleet renewal on hold and cancel firm orders for 35 Boeing B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.
The flag carrier registered a net loss of A$244 million (US$253 million) in the 12 months till June 30, 2012, compared to a net profit of A$250 million in the preceding 12 months.
Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, said the dismal results could be attributed to the carrier’s record fuel bill, up A$645 million (18 per cent) to A$4.3 billion; A$194 million in costs incurred during last year’s prolonged industrial dispute; and transformation costs of A$376 million as the airline continues to address its legacy cost base and turn around its international business.
“We confront very difficult and uncertain trading conditions in Britain, Europe and the US, and the fuel price is also uncertain,” said Joyce. “The high Australian dollar will continue to create ripple effects throughout Australia. But Asia will continue to offer high growth potential as the middle class grows and travels.”
Joyce said the biggest challenge for Qantas was turning around its international business, while ensuring that its transformation remained on track.
“Qantas has cut loss-making (international) routes, and successfully used gateways and partnerships to extend our reach and create better options for customers, while restraining our costs,” he said.
“With existing partners Jetstar, China Eastern, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways and Cathay Pacific, we do take our customers to and between the largest Asian hubs.”