Details are still under wraps, but Qantas will this afternoon release its half yearly results two weeks sooner than planned as late as yesterday morning when 19 February remained the official date.
The abrupt change in plan follows the two day trading halt which it was granted yesterday morning after the ASX queried the company in relation to a sudden 6.5% decline in its share price on Monday afternoon.
Although Qantas chose its words carefully, they imply that an additional capital raising is about to be announced, although at suggested figures of between $500-750 million, this doesn’t sound like they are about to buy British Airways.
The half yearly reports of both Qantas and Virgin Blue up to 31 December are widely expected to signal the end of the good times for the carriers. Both experienced strong demand, ordinary yields, and for a short period some benefit from falling fuel prices and a reasonably resilient Australian dollar in that period.
Since then everything has changed for the worse. The Australian dollar has sagged, taking with it some of the benefits of lower fuel. And demand has fallen into a chasm on some overseas routes of particular importance to Qantas.
There are strong anecdotal reports that premium travel demand, mainly in business class has collapsed by between 20-30% in the Asia-Pacific hemisphere in general. Those claims were not specifically about Qantas, but Qantas isn’t claiming any immunity from calamity.
In fact, constant predictions of calamity were a hallmark of Qantas under former CEO, Geoff Dixon, even during the very best of times. His successor Alan Joyce seems set to see them come true.