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Qantas' wings clipped as Woolworths profit soars

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Qantas has posted a full-year net loss of $1.73 billion while Woolworths announced a $2.1 billion profit, reflecting the pain and gain the pandemic is serving up to some of Australia’s biggest corporates.

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The national carrier’s revenue for the 12 months to June 30 slid 58.4 per cent to $5.93 billion, as international and domestic border closures due to the virus significantly disrupted air travel.

On an underlying basis – which excludes one-off costs such as redundancies and aircraft write-downs – Qantas swung to a pre-tax loss of $1.83 billion from a profit of $124 million a year ago.

“This loss shows the impact that a full year of closed international borders and more than 330 days of domestic travel restrictions had on the national carrier,” CEO Alan Joyce said.

“The trading conditions have frankly been diabolical.”

The airline said it had lost a total of $16 billion in revenue due to COVID-19 so far, with minimal international travel and multiple waves of domestic border restrictions continuing to hit travel demand.

Its domestic division posted an underlying earnings loss of $669 million as outbreaks of the virus triggered a series of state lockdowns.

The international and freight division reported an underlying earnings loss of $1 billion for the year.

Qantas has warned recent domestic and trans-Tasman border closures will result in a $1.4 billion hit to group earnings in the first half of 2021/222.

The airline will extend the stand-downs of domestic crew and airport staff beyond the eight weeks – as previously announced – if borders remain closed.

It will not pay a dividend to shareholders.

Meanwhile, Woolworths’ full-year profit has soared by almost 78 per cent, despite another tough year of managing the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic for its customers.

The supermarkets operator said net profit for 2020/21 after significant items totalled $2.1 billion, compared to $1.2 billion in the previous year, as sales rose by more than five per cent.

“It was another challenging year for our team and communities but also a year where we achieved a lot together,” CEO Brad Banducci said in a statement on Thursday.

“COVID will continue to have a profound impact in F22 but making any further predictions about the year ahead remains very difficult.”

Banducci said vaccination rates in Australia were key to the outlook.

Woolworths also announced a $2 billion off-market share buy-back, after delivering an improved final dividend of 55 cents per share for 2020/21 to shareholders.

That takes the dividend for the year to $1.08 per share, up 14.9 per cent.

 – AAP

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