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Qantas net slumps 66%

QANTAS Airways Ltd said yesterday that its net profit slumped 66 percent in the first half of its financial year to A$210 million (US$132 million) as the global financial downturn sent passenger numbers tumbling.

The airline, which dominates Australia's domestic market and operates lucrative routes to the United States and Europe, also announced plans to raise at least A$500 million in new capital via an equity share issue to pay off debt and fund new planes.

Qantas earned an after-tax profit of A$210 million for the six months to December 31, 2008 compared to A$618 million for the same period a year earlier, it reported to the Australian Securities Exchange. Pretax profit crashed more than 68 percent to A$288 million

Group revenue rose 2 percent to A$7.9 billion from A$7.8 billion in the earlier period. Earnings per share were 10 cents and the company announced an interim dividend of 6 cents per share.

Qantas kept its pre-tax profit outlook of A$500 million for the 12 months to June 30.

Chairman Leigh Clifford said earnings were hit by the global economic downturn and volatility in currency and oil prices, but he insisted the company remained strong and profitable.

"Our revenues have come under pressure, but through calibrating our network, stimulating demand through attractive pricing, maximizing the performance of our diversified businesses and restraining costs we have achieved a very good result," Clifford said.


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