Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce speaks during the company's results announcement press conference in Sydney, Australia, 20 August 2020. EFE-EPA FILE/DEAN LEWINS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Qantas set for record $1.6 billion profit

Sydney, Australia, May 23 (EFE).- Australia’s Qantas Group expects a record annual net profit of at least AU$2.48 billion (about $1.6 billion) as post-pandemic travel demand surges.

A Qantas plane carrying repatriated Australians lands at Darwin Airport in Darwin, Australia, 23 October 2020. EFE-EPA FILE/CHARLIE BLISS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

The forecast, covering between July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023, would break the prior record set in 2018 at AU$1.56 billion.

Passengers disembark the first Qantas flight from Melbourne following the lifting of border restrictions at Sydney Airport, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 23 November 2020. EFE-EPA FILE/DEAN LEWINS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

The airline’s recovery after Covid-19 is due to an increase in domestic flights, especially between routes linking Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as international flights, which will reach 80 percent of pre-pandemic capacity by the end of this year.

“More parts of the aviation supply chain are returning to normal, which means we’re able to put some of the spare aircraft and crew we kept in reserve back in the schedule,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement.

Qantas, which is dragging a billion-dollar pandemic debt, had reported consecutive losses in the 2021 and 2022 financial years as a result of its border closures.

The 2020 fiscal year, which included the first months of the pandemic, saw a modest positive result of AU$124 million.

Joyce said that the increase in routes together with a drop in fuel prices will contribute to a reduction in airfares.

Despite the positive results, Qantas’ debt will continue this year above AU$2.9 billion, according to company data.

The airline also said that as a result of the positive forecast, it has increased the existing on-market buy-back by up to AU$100 million. EFE