Qantas flags $1.1b first-half loss as Omicron fears hit bookings

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Qantas has flagged a “significant loss” for the December half due to the extended COVID lockdowns across the country and a recent fall in flight bookings with the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Assuming no further lockdowns or significant travel restrictions, the airline expects an operating loss of more than $1.1 billion for the first six months of its financial year, it said in a trading update on Thursday morning.

Qantas has warned it will post a “significant” loss in the latest half.

“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,” chief executive Alan Joyce said in the statement.

In international travel, the company said it recently saw a “significant drop in booking momentum due to the news of the Omicron variant and the additional quarantine restrictions imposed.”

Planning for its recovery, Qantas has placed an order for 134 new Airbus jets over the next ten years in what it says will be the biggest aircraft order in Australian history.

The recent $804 million sale of prime land at Mascot near Sydney Airport and a rise in bookings after dates for the opening of Australia’s domestic and international borders were announced let it reduce net debt to about $5.65 billion by the end of December, Qantas said.

More to come.

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