Qantas has announced its strongest profit since before the global financial crisis, a $505 million capital return to shareholders and a Boeing 787 Dreamliner order to start a new era for Qantas International.
For the 12 months to June 20th, the Australian flag-carrier reported an underlying profit before tax of $975 million and a statutory profit before tax of $789 million.
The underlying result is a turnaround of $1.6 billion compared with financial year 2014, including Qantas’ best ever second half performance, with all segments of the Qantas Group reporting robust profits and returning their cost of capital.
The driving force behind the result was progress with the Qantas Transformation program, which realised $894 million in transformation benefits during the year and saw Qantas meet its target of paying down more than $1 billion in net debt.
As a result, Qantas has reached its optimal capital structure – enabling it to resume shareholder returns while continuing to invest in growth and renewal.
Chief executive Alan Joyce said the milestone acquisition of the next-generation Dreamliner for Qantas International marked the scale of Qantas’ turnaround and signalled a new phase of renewal and growth.
“We are halfway through the biggest and fastest transformation in our history,” Joyce said.
“Without that transformation, we would not be reporting this strong profit, recommencing shareholder returns, or announcing our ultra-efficient Dreamliner fleet for Qantas International.
“We have reshaped our business for a strong, sustainable future - and because we moved quickly and made tough decisions early, we have strong foundations to build on.”
A capital return of $505 million, equivalent to 23 cents per share, is proposed to be paid to shareholders in early November 2015.
The payment is subject to shareholder approval at the Qantas Annual General Meeting on October 23rd 2015 of the capital return and the related share consolidation.
“The financial discipline we have applied means we can reward our shareholders, who have been both patient and supportive throughout our transformation,” Joyce said.
“We’re delighted to make this announcement today.”
Qantas will acquire eight Boeing 787-9 aircraft, to be delivered from calendar year 2017 and gradually replace five older Boeing 747s.
“New aircraft types have always unlocked opportunities for Qantas,” Joyce continued.
“When our red tail Dreamliners start arriving in two years’ time, their incredible range and fuel-efficiency will create new possibilities for our network.
“For customers, the Qantas Dreamliner’s improved cabin pressure, larger windows and technology to reduce turbulence will deliver the world’s best travel experience.”
The $2 billion Qantas Transformation program was announced in December 2013.
To date, $1.1 billion of transformation benefits have been realised, including the $894 million of benefits realised in financial year 2015, and the Group has met every scheduled target for the program.
Other factors that had a positive impact on Qantas’ performance in financial year 2015 were lower fuel prices, depreciation savings from the Qantas International fleet impairment, higher revenue per available seat kilometre (excluding foreign exchange), and the repeal of the carbon tax.