Australia’s Qantas Airlines has reported further losses as it continues to deal with pandemic lockdowns and setbacks from the COVID-19 virus.
For the six months to December 31, 2021, the Australian flag carrier reported a statutory loss before tax of AUD622 million ($443 million), compared to a loss of AUD1.44 billion ($998 million) one year ago.
“It’s our fourth statutory half year loss in a row, as we continue to deal with the twists and turns of COVID,” chief executive Alan Joyce commented. “It takes our total statutory losses since the start of this crisis to well over $6 billion and revenue losses to more than $22 billion.”
Joyce said with most of Australia in lockdown for several months of the period, the loss wasn’t surprising, but it was frustrating.
“We saw a sharp rebound in travel demand when borders started opening in November and December, only to be hit by the Omicron wave and all the uncertainty that came with it,” he added.
Qantas expects Omicron will have a negative impact on earnings before interest and tax of around AUD650 million ($463 million) in the second half of its financial year.
Still, Qantas is now seeing positive signs for travel demand, with international ticket sales rising in recent weeks and good leisure demand into the fourth quarter. Australia reopened its borders fully to international travelers on February 21, 2022.
Joyce also said Qantas was moving forward with fleet decisions as the outlook improves. The airline expects to finalize its domestic fleet renewal program with Airbus by the middle of 2022 and it has resumed work on Project Sunrise, to operate non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to New York and London.
“Our latest customer research shows the demand for direct long-haul flights is even stronger than it was pre-COVID, so our focus on delivering non-stop services from Sydney and Melbourne to New York and London remains,” Joyce said.