Qantas back in the black by $1.43 billion, and Alan Joyce vows customers will benefit

Qantas has returned to profitability for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline reported an interim, underlying pre-tax profit of $1.43 billion for the first half of the financial year.

This is a dramatic reversal of fortune for Qantas which, like many airlines, was severely affected by COVID-19.

Its return to profit comes after three years and $7 billion of cumulative losses due to the pandemic, Qantas stated.

So, what can customers expect from Qantas now that the airline is back in the black? Here are some key changes the airline has announced:


Fares are up by about 20 per cent in Australia compared to 2021 and by similar amounts in key markets like the US.

Qantas warned customers that while airfares would “moderate”, prices would not return to pre-pandemic levels.

“Fares [are] expected to moderate during [the second half of 2023] as capacity increases but will remain significantly above FY19 levels,” it told shareholders.

Experts told The New Daily that while Qantas’ profitability could bring prices down they warned inflation played an important role.

Professor Rico Merkert, chair in transport and supply chain management at the University of Sydney, said: “Qantas faces pressures from the labour force, in terms of high wages, but also input prices, including jet fuel – it’s not getting any cheaper. And to some extent, they need to pass that onto the consumer.”

If demand softened and competition among airlines picked up, Qantas might be forced to reduce fares, he said.

Professor Doug Drury, head of aviation at Central Queensland University, said Qantas would not lower fares while travellers continued to pay for expensive flights.

“It’s supply and demand. Qantas will keep charging them as long as we are willing to pay these prices,” Professor Drury said.

“As soon as anybody flinches, like when Virgin comes back with international flights, and they start launching services that undercut Qantas, well, then Qantas will have to bring the prices down.”

Qantas posts its first post-COVID profit

‘Big investments’

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that earlier problems with customers’ experience had been “largely resolved”.

However, reports from the ABC suggest that this claim may be premature.

Mr Joyce said the return to profit meant the airline could make “big investments in customer service”.

“There’s a steady stream of short and long-term projects happening … all with the simple aim of making people’s journey better.

“We’re opening three new and upgraded lounges this calendar year, and just this week we announced $100 million for several more,” Mr Joyce said.

The upgrade to its lounge network, including a flagship First Lounge at Heathrow, would “[elevate] the pre-flight and transit experience for customers to a new level of luxury at key destinations”.

Experts told TND that the lounge refits along with airline’s planned Project Sunrise were attempts to lure business travellers back to the airline.

They said that business travellers had been sluggish to return and that the projects would make the airline competitive for the business market.

“The money that Qantas is making right now – it goes into future fleets, it goes into hiring new staff, and it goes into putting a little more polish on their product,” Professor Drury said.

Updated fleet to boost capacity

The airline has unveiled a series of updates to its fleet to boost capacity and meet growing demand in the leisure, resources and domestic freight markets.

It says the new aircraft will help the airline lower emissions, expand the network, create new jobs, and ultimately serve customers better.

The plan includes purchasing a number of narrow-body aircraft and 12 wide-body aircraft over the next decade.

“Overall, we’re expecting a new arrival every three weeks on average for the next several years,” Mr Joyce said.

The airline expects domestic capacity will exceed pre-COVID levels in the second half of 2023, while international capacity is forecast to reach 81 per cent of 2019 levels in the second half.


Qantas announced more than one million discounted seats across its network, which the airline says will make it easier for Australians to lock in their travel plans for the rest of the year.

The sales will span 170 domestic routes, with Qantas flights starting from $99.

The sale fares are on average 30 per cent lower than Qantas’ normal lead-in fares and up to 60 per cent lower for Jetstar.

And in efforts to get Australians back in the sky and travelling overseas, Qantas announced tens of thousands of new international rewards seats to be released for frequent flyers.

The extra reward seats will be available across all cabins, including business and first, on the airline’s full international network.

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