Qantas has recorded an underlying loss before tax of $1.86 billion in its full-year financial results.
Chief executive Alan Joyce said the result takes the before tax impact of COVID-19 on the wider group to $7 billion, which he called “staggering”.
“The past year has been challenging for everyone. We had to ramp down almost all flying once Delta hit and stay that way for several months before ramping back up through multiple Omicron waves as we all learned to live with COVID-19 in the community,” said Joyce.
“We always knew travel demand would recover strongly but the speed and scale of that recovery has been exceptional. Our teams have done an amazing job through the restart and our customers have been extremely patient as the whole industry has dealt with sick leave and labour shortages in the past few months.
“Safety remains number one, but our service isn’t at the level expected of the national carrier. There is a lot of work happening to bring us back to our best, including hiring more people, rolling out new technology and reducing domestic flying so we have more sick leave cover.
“We saw a big improvement in baggage handling and cancellations in August, which we expect will return to pre-COVID-19 standards next month. On time performance also improved significantly and should be close to our usual high standard in September.
“We’re even more confident in the future than we were six months ago, so today we’re announcing more investment in our people and our customers, including a major boost to staff travel benefits, new routes and new lounges.
“We’re also announcing the first capital return for shareholders since they provided us $1.4 billion at the start of the pandemic to support our Recovery Plan.”
It comes days after Joyce recorded a ‘formal apology’ to frequent flyers for the airline’s post-pandemic struggles.
The video message came alongside a range of perks for long-standing members, including a $50 voucher towards a return flight and a status extension for silver frequent flyers or above.
In 2022, Qantas has faced a string of problems, including huge delays at Easter, hours-long call wait times, and even a revelation that the cabin crew of a Qantas A330 were made to sleep across seats in economy. Last year, the Federal Court ruled the Flying Kangaroo was wrong to outsource 2,000 ground handling roles and subsequently rejected an initial appeal.