Qantas has delivered a smaller annual profit of $853 million, down 17 per cent on the last financial year, but you wouldn’t know it from the CEO’s upbeat tone.
While handing down the results on Friday, Alan Joyce focused on the airline’s underlying profit before tax of $1.4 billion, the second-highest in its history – and on an ambitious plan for non-stop flights to Europe and the US.
“These results mark the completion of our three year turnaround program – the ambitious $2 billion initiative we started in 2014 to make the Qantas Group sustainably profitable,” he told the market.
“In that time, we’ve tackled some difficult structural issues, become a lot more efficient and kept improving the customer experience.
“It’s fair to say those efforts have well-and-truly paid off.”
Investors will get a final dividend of 7 cents a share, unfranked, worth $127 million.
The interesting news for customers was Mr Joyce’s announcement that Qantas plans to fly direct non-stop between Sydney and London, Brisbane and Paris, and Melbourne and New York by 2022.
“This is a last frontier in global aviation, the antidote to the tyranny of distance, and a revolution for air travel in Australia,” he said.
“A direct flight would cut up to four hours of travel time off a journey to London.
“Removing the need to stop mid-way means your journey is uninterrupted. Less chance for delays on the ground; more time watching movies and sleeping. And a faster trip door to door.”
The technology to do so does not yet exist, but Mr Joyce was optimistic that “advances in the next few years will close the gap”.