Qantas will receive A$104 million ($80 million) in liquidated damages from Airbus relating to the late delivery of the Australian carrier's A380s.

The figure was made public in the airline's annual results for the year ended 30 June 2006, released last week, which saw a 26.6% fall in pre-tax profit to A$671 million, attributed largely to a A$1.1 billion increase in fuel costs. Net profit was down 30.4% to A$480 million compared with a year earlier on revenues of A$13.6 billion (up 8.6%).

Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon says the damages will be paid to the airline over several years based on the final payment for aircraft by the carrier.

Qantas, which has 12 A380s on order plus 10 options, was originally due to receive its first aircraft late this year. Dixon says Airbus now expects to deliver Qantas' first aircraft in October 2007. "We are very confident about the aircraft and eagerly await its introduction into service. The A380 will be the mainstay of our fleet for some time to come," says Dixon.

Qantas has also confirmed orders for a further four A330-200s for delivery next year - two for low-cost operator Jetstar and two for mainline Qantas.

Meanwhile, Qantas has established a new wholly owned subsidiary to manage domestic airfreight operations as it seeks to grow the business.

Express Freighters Australia, which will launch operations in October, will wet lease Boeing 737-300 freighters to Australian Air Express, Qantas' joint venture with Australia Post, under a 12-year contract. Initially one aircraft will be involved, rising to four by next March. Qantas Engineering is converting the aircraft.

Source: Flight International