Qantas enjoys strong six months with cargo on the up

Australian flag-carrier Qantas has announced strong financial results for the six-month period that ended on December 31 (the first half of its current financial year).

Net freight revenue reached A$525, up by 15% on the same period of 2017.

The carrier said in a statement that, “The freight business delivered a steady performance”, with revenue rising on the back of increased global demand.

Underlying profit before tax across the group was A$780m, down A$179m year on year, profits having been hit by a high fuel bill.

Qantas said that despite the year-on-year fall, it had posted a “strong first-half profit”.

Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce said he was, “really pleased with how the business responded to the challenges and opportunities we saw in the half”.

“Higher oil prices were a significant headwind and we moved quickly to recover as much of the cost as we could,” he added.

“Importantly, we made good progress against our longer-term strategy. More [Boeing] 787s arrived and more 747s are being retired.

Little detail on freight was apparent in the results, because the Qantas Freight segment of group operations, which was previously a separate operating segment, is now consolidated into the Qantas International segment.

However, Qantas International’s revenue increased by almost 7% to A$3.7bn, although earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) declined by 60% to $90m, largely due to a rapid rise in fuel costs.

Qantas International took delivery of three 787-9s in the second half of the last calendar year, with a further six arriving from the first half of the 2020 financial year that will take the total fleet to 14.

The introduction of the 787 is facilitating accelerated retirement of the 747 in the carrier’s fleet over the coming two years; a further three 747s will have been removed by the end of FY19 (June 30), leaving seven in the Qantas inventory.

As was recently announced, Qantas has formalised with Airbus its decision not to take eight additional A380s that were ordered in 2006. These aircraft have not been part of the airline’s fleet and network plans for some time.

Several streams of work on Project Sunrise – which aims to deliver non-stop flights from the east coast of Australia to New York and London by 2022 – have continued, and the project remains “on track”, Qantas confirmed.

According to its website, Qantas Freight ships more than 4,000 items of airfreight items each day.

As of December 31 2018, Qantas was operating four 737-300SFs, one 737-400SF and one 767-300SF. Qantas Group also wet leases the capacity of two 747-400 freighter aircraft and four BAe 146 freighters.

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