Finance Finance News Qantas flags $1.1 billion first-half loss

Qantas flags $1.1 billion first-half loss

Qantas blamed the estimated loss on months of coronavirus lockdowns and travel restrictions. Photo: Getty
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Qantas has forecast a loss of more than $1.1 billion from a lockdown-plagued half but says it has made inroads in reducing debt.

The carrier on Thursday blamed months of coronavirus lockdowns and travel restrictions from the Delta outbreak for the estimated first-half loss in underlying earnings. The earnings are due in February.

Qantas leaders were happier to talk about improving travel demand, and a $802 million Sydney land sale, which have helped reduce massive pandemic debt.

The executives expect net debt will be $5.65 billion by the end of December.

Chief executive Alan Joyce said customers were booking domestic and overseas travel, despite concerns about the latest virus variant.

“The news of the Omicron variant had a clear impact on people’s confidence to book international trips in particular, but we haven’t seen large numbers of cancellations,” Mr Joyce said.

“Many customers have strong intentions to travel if their border and quarantine settings are right, and in the past few days we have seen intakes improve.”

Mr Joyce said the focus next year was making sure the business was cash-flow positive.

“We just need to generate cash,” he said.

“For us, 2022 is not about making money. It’s about generating positive cash flows and repairing the balance sheet by building revenue.

“We’re near the debt target we set for ourselves.”

The airline has slashed thousands of jobs since the pandemic began as bookings spiralled due to virus rules.

The carrier also revealed it has chosen Airbus planes for its domestic narrow-body fleet after a tender.

Forty planes from the Airbus A320neo and A220 families will be ordered by the end of the financial year.

The value of the deal was not revealed.

Mr Joyce said the planes were quieter and produced fewer carbon emissions.

ASX shares in the company were down 1.75 per cent to $4.78 at 1135 AEDT.