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Qantas Swings To Full-Year Profit

Qantas Airways posted a return to profit with underlying full-year profit of AUD$975 million (USD$716.4 million) after last year's record AUD$2.8 billion loss.

The Australian flag carrier announced it will exercise options to buy eight Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and said it would return some funds to shareholders after tough cost-cutting and tailwinds from cheaper fuel costs led the company back into the black.

"We are halfway through the biggest and fastest transformation in our history," chief executive Alan Joyce said in a statement.

"Without that transformation, we would not be reporting this strong profit, recommencing shareholder returns, or announcing our ultra-efficient Dreamliner fleet for Qantas International."

Revenue rose 3 percent to AUD$15.82 billion, underscoring the success of Joyce's aggressive cost-cutting that included cutting thousands of jobs, trimming capacity and overhauling frequent flyer scheme.

Qantas's international division was profitable for the first time since the global financial crisis, with earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of AUD$764 million.

The airline also benefited from a AUD$597 million drop in fuel costs from the previous year.

Qantas had postponed plans to replace its fleet of 11 Boeing 747s used on long-haul flights with the more fuel efficient Boeing 787-9 aircraft when it was in financial difficulty.

The eight Boeing 787-9s will come online in 2017 and could open up new routes for the airline, such as Sydney to Vancouver year round and Melbourne to Dallas. The airline retains another 12 options for 787-9s from 2017 and a further 30 purchase rights.

Qantas declared no final dividend but said it plans to pay shareholders a distribution of 23 cents per share. The company last paid a dividend in 2009.

(Reuters)