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Qantas returns to full-year profit and pledges new growth phase

Qantas plane Image copyright Getty Images

Australia's national carrier Qantas has reported a return to full-year profit and says it plans to buy new planes.

The airline reported an underlying pre-tax profit of 975m Australian dollars (£457m; $717m), compared with a loss of A$646m a year ago.

Qantas also placed an order for eight Boeing Dreamliners, and said it would return cash to shareholders.

Qantas' return to profitability was thanks to tough cost-cutting measures and was also helped by low fuel prices.

The company has been aggressively reducing jobs, cutting capacity and overhauling its frequent flyer programme.

The carrier said the earnings were its strongest profits since before the global financial crisis of 2008.

'Biggest turnaround'

Chief executive Alan Joyce said the acquisition of eight next-generation Boeing Dreamliners marked the scale of Qantas' turnaround and signalled a new phase of renewal and growth.

"We are delivering one of the biggest turnarounds in Australia's corporate history," he said.

"This is the best first half [financial] result in four years and the best second half result in the company's history."

Qantas had postponed plans to refresh its ageing fleet of 11 Boeing 747s used on long-haul flights with the Boeing Dreamliners when it was in financial difficulty.

The airline now has another 12 options for the Dreamliner from 2017 and a further 30 purchase rights.

The eight new Boeing Dreamliners are expected to shrink the fuel bill in 2017 further on some of the longest direct commercial routes, such as Melbourne to Dallas.

The company said it would return cash to shareholders by paying 23 cents a share, a total of A$505m.

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