Qantas shareholders could be in line for yet another windfall this year after the airline said it expects to post a record pre-tax profit.
The carrier lifted third-quarter revenue 7.5 per cent and has flagged a full-year underlying pre-tax profit of between $1.55 billion and $1.60 billion.
That would beat the record $1.5 billion it made in 2016 and comfortably exceed last year’s $1.4 billion.
Shareholders have repeatedly benefited from Qantas’ return to profitability, with the airline buying back almost a quarter of its stock since October 2015, and they could get another boost when full-year results are reported in August.
“The board will consider further capital management initiatives in line with the Group’s financial framework as part of full-year results in August 2018,” Qantas said in a statement on Wednesday.
Qantas shares, which had already trebled in value over the past three and a half years, jumped 6.2 per cent to $6.16 by 1047 AEST.
Group domestic revenue per passenger for the three months to March 31 increased eight per cent on the prior corresponding period – which Qantas says was partly due to the resources sector’s continuing recovery – while international revenue per passenger rose 5.2 per cent.
Chief executive Alan Joyce said the airline’s overhaul in the past few years – including changes in its fuel hedging program – meant it was able to grow earnings despite industry-wide increases in fuel costs.
“Qantas is on track to deliver another record full year result even though we’re facing a $200 million increase in our total fuel bill in FY18,” Mr Joyce said.
“We’re seeing solid results from each of our business units, which is a reflection of broadly positive trading conditions and the work we’ve done to strengthen the group.”
Qantas also announced the acquisition of six more Boeing Dreamliners, which are 20 per cent more fuel efficient than the last six 747s they will replace by the end of the 2020 calendar year.
The Dreamliner already opened up the non-stop Perth-London route, which Qantas said would help deliver significant financial upside from FY19.
“The additional 787s will allow for further utilisation improvements to the Qantas international network,” Qantas said.