Qantas Airways posted a bumper 17.9 percent jump in interim net profit Thursday and announced a share buyback, while outlining plans to create one of the southern hemisphere's biggest pilot academies.
The Australian carrier's result came in at Aus$607 million (US$473 million), with a strong performance from its domestic arm boosting the bottom line.
Underlying profit before tax, its preferred measure, which strips out one-time costs, was the highest in its history at Aus$976 million in the six months to December 31.
The market welcomed the result, with Qantas shares ending 5.88 percent higher at Aus$5.58.
The result comes on the back of an aggressive efficiency drive that has included hefty redundancies, a shift away from loss-making routes and aircraft retirements, and despite rising fuel costs.
"We met, or exceeded, all targets of our financial framework," said chief executive Alan Joyce, adding that the carrier had "a lot of momentum behind us".
"Debt is towards the bottom of our target range. Every division is returning more than its cost of capital."
Qantas Domestic, the budget Jetstar group and its loyalty programme all reported record results, while its international arm "held its own in a market that is producing some extremely low air fares".
"This result shows what our previous record results have shown -- we have a strong portfolio of businesses and the right integrated strategy for managing them," said Joyce.
"It comes from investing in areas that provide margin growth and a network strategy that makes sure we have the right aircraft on the right route." The airline declared a final dividend of 7.0 cents and announced an on-market share buyback of Aus$378 million.