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Qantas achieved the best half-year result in the airline’s history with a net profit of A$688 million ($498 million) for the six months through Dec. 31, 2015, compared with a profit of A$206 million a year earlier.
The group’s domestic, international and Jetstar business units all saw significant improvements for the period, which was the carrier’s fiscal first-half. It was helped by a 7% reduction in unit costs, mainly due to lower fuel prices. Qantas expects its fuel bill to be A$600 million lower for the full fiscal year. Revenue was up 5% in the half.
CEO Alan Joyce cited further progress in Qantas’ three-year turnaround plan as being another major factor in the higher profit. The airline has realized A$1.4 billion in cumulative savings since 2014 from this plan. It has completed or identified 4,500 of the 5,000 layoffs that were targeted. However, the airline is also hiring in other areas, such a new campaign to add 170 pilots for its Boeing 787-9 fleet that will enter service in late 2017.
Further cost benefits from the turnaround plan will emerge this year, such as the closure of a Brisbane call center. This will leave the airline with one call center, down from three before the transformation plan was launched. A new revenue management system is also due to be rolled out this year.
The airline unveiled a plan to install high-speed Internet connectivity in its domestic Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 fleet, with a trial to begin this year and full rollout in 2017. Qantas also announced it will build its first dedicated premium lounge at London Heathrow Airport. Construction of the lounge in Heathrow’s Terminal 3 will begin in September, and it is due to open in early 2017.
Group capacity is expected to be up by 5% for the full fiscal year, which runs through June 30. For the second half of the fiscal year, the parent carrier’s international capacity is forecast to increase by 9%, with Jetstar international capacity rising 12%, and overall domestic capacity up 2%.