Qantas climbs back to profit

Qantas has bounced back from a steep full-year loss last financial year, to post a $111 million half-year profit.

The airline's net profit after tax for the six months to the end of December 2012 jumped 164 per cent on the same period a year earlier, and was up from a $287 million loss in the previous half-year.

Underlying profit before tax, which also excludes most one-off costs and gains, was up more than 10 per cent on the same period last year to $223 million.

However, both the underlying and statutory profits include $125 million in revenue from an agreement negotiated between Qantas and Boeing in August 2012 to restructure the airline's order for B787 Dreamliners.

The airline's chief executive, Alan Joyce says the cancellation of 35 Dreamliners and the sale of its half share in road-freight venture StarTrack is paying off.

"Today's result includes $125 million of compensation income from Boeing," he said.

"This compensation settlement, negotiated by Qantas management, recognises the opportunity cost to our business incurred by the delay in the delivery of the 787s, which affected Jetstar, Qantas International and Qantas domestic." 'Transformation benefits' The major difference between underlying and statutory profit was $136 million in one-off "transformation costs", as the airline restructures some of its businesses.

The company says all parts of its business were profitable in the half, except Qantas International which posted a before tax loss of $91 million.

However, it noted that its international division cut its losses by 65 per cent in the half compared with a year earlier.

The airline's chief executive Alan Joyce says Qantas is now starting to reap the benefits of its restructuring program, which resulted in large short-term costs when management grounded the airline in response to staff industrial action.

"In total, the group achieved $172 million in transformation benefits in the first half of 2013," he noted in the report.

"The operating environment remains complex and volatile, but we are now beginning to realise the benefits of the tough decisions that we have made over the past 18 months." Despite this improvement, Qantas has warned its outlook for the current six months remains challenging and volatile, and has declined to provide profit guidance due to uncertainty around fuel costs, competition, exchange rates and the global economy.

The airline has elected not to pay an interim dividend, but investors are still happy with the result, pushing Qantas shares up 4 per cent to $1.68 by 10:32am (AEDT).

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