CANBERRA, Dec 16: Australian flag carrier Qantas posted its end-of-year balance sheets showing that the airline is poised to climb out of debt as demand for travel picks up in the second half of 2022.
The company posted A$5.65 billion ($4 billion) of net debt to December 2021, and anticipated a further A$1.1 billion plunge in the second half of 2021.
“This has been one of the worst halves of the entire pandemic, where most states had their borders closed and the majority of Australians were in lockdown. Domestically, our capacity fell to around 30 per cent of pre-Covid levels for several months,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.
However, the airline boss said business is likely to pick up in the second half of 2022, citing Australia’s high vaccination rate.
“Australia now has one of the highest levels of vaccination and it’s still rising. That sets us apart from many other countries and puts us in a much better position to manage uncertainty around variants and seasonal surges,” said Joyce.
“One of our biggest strengths throughout the pandemic has been the fact we’ve responded quickly to change. We’ve significantly reduced our cost base which improves our ability to recover.”
He noted that all Australian-based employees had already been put back to work, and forecast that domestic demand would be above pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022.
“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.”
In anticipation of this rebound, Qantas also announced on Thursday an order for 134 aircraft to be purchased over the next 10 years.
“This is a clear sign of our confidence in the future and we’ve locked in pricing just ahead of what’s likely to be a big uptick in demand for next-generation narrow-body aircraft,” said Joyce.