Following a period of controversy which has dogged the Australian national carrier, Qantas Group has released a September overview.
The Group outlines its intended investment in customer improvements, notes the continued demand surge and outlines challenges.
Investment in Customer Experience
An additional investment of $80 million is slated for FY24, supplementing the $150 million initially allocated, all of which will be funded from profits. This substantial investment aims to address several customer ‘pain points.’
It encompasses vital aspects such as enhancing contact center resources and training, expanding the availability of seats redeemable with Frequent Flyer points, offering improved recovery support during operational issues, and revisiting long-standing policies for fairness.
Moreover, passengers can anticipate upgrades in the quality of inflight catering.
The Qantas Group is also expediting ongoing initiatives, notably the re-platforming of the Qantas app, promising even more convenience and efficiency for travelers. Further details on these endeavors will be revealed in the coming weeks.
In line with global trends, travel demand remains robust for the Qantas Group. The first quarter of FY24 mirrors the strong trading conditions witnessed in the final quarter of FY23.
For the upcoming September/October school holidays and football finals period, Qantas and Jetstar are gearing up to serve over 4 million passengers across nearly 35,000 domestic and international flights.
This marks a significant increase from the approximately 3.7 million passengers on approximately 28,000 services during the same four-week period last year.
Recent survey data underscores that travel continues to top the spending priorities of Qantas Frequent Flyers for the next six months.
This preference outweighs other choices like entertainment, renovations, and homewares.
Fuel, Currency Exchange, and Fares
One of the challenges facing the aviation industry is the volatility of fuel prices. Since May 2023, fuel prices have surged by approximately 30%, with an additional 10% spike witnessed in August.
This escalation is attributed to a combination of factors, including higher oil prices, increased refiner margins, and a weaker Australian dollar.
If these trends persist, the Qantas Group anticipates its 1H24 fuel bill to surge by around $200 million, reaching $2.8 billion after hedging. Furthermore, non-fuel related foreign exchange changes are expected to impact the group by an additional $50 million.
While the group remains committed to absorbing these increased costs, it is closely monitoring fuel prices. Should current levels persist, adjustments may be considered.
Any alterations will aim to strike a balance between recovering higher costs and ensuring affordable travel, especially in a climate where fares are already elevated.
Capacity and Network
New aircraft deliveries and strategic wet-leasing arrangements are set to bolster international capacity by an impressive 12 percentage points by year-end. This translates to nearly 50 additional flights per week.
Among the highlights, Qantas will be resuming its Sydney-Shanghai services, introducing two new routes – Brisbane-Wellington and Brisbane-Honiara – and launching a new Jetstar service from Brisbane to Tokyo.
Both international and domestic capacity for 1H24 remain on track, aligning with earlier estimates provided in late August 2023.
An on-market share buyback program, initially announced on 24 August 2023 and amounting to $500 million, is already 10% complete.
Shareholder approval will be sought at Qantas’ upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) to increase the headroom for future share buybacks, aligning with the Financial Framework.
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