WHEN Alan Joyce took over as chief executive of Qantas in 2008, the carrier looked, to use an Australianism, buggered. Costs ran high at the flag carrier, and over the coming years the competitive outlook only worsened. Domestically it became embroiled in a bitter price war with Virgin Australia, which had targeted its market share. Internationally it watched as rich foreign carriers, particularly those from the Gulf such as Emirates, started to offer Australians cheaper fares to more destinations. Years of heavy losses seemed inevitable.

The Flying Kangaroo, however, has bounced back impressively. On 24th August it announced record profits of A$1.4 billion ($1.1 billion), and said it would both pay its first dividend to shareholders in seven years. It will also distribute A$75m among staff.

The path to profitability has been hard. In 2011 it grounded all of its planes and locked out workers who were striking over pay. In 2013, it decided that, rather than compete with Emirates, it would be better to sign a partnership with it. Australian passengers heading to Europe now typically connect in Dubai rather than Asia. And in 2014, the firm...Continue reading