Qantas has flagged a boosted profit for the first half of 2023, as travel demand continues to soar.

Qantas Group said in a release it now expected a before-tax profit of between $1.35 billion and $1.45 billion – $150 million higher than the profit range predicted in early October.

“Consumers continue to put a high priority on travel ahead of other spending categories and there are signs that limits on international capacity are driving more domestic leisure demand, benefiting Australian tourism,” the airline said.

A Qantas A380 takes off from Sydney Airport over Botany Bay.
Qantas has forecast an improved profit for the first half of 2023. (AP)

However, fuel costs are expected to reach about $5 billion for the 2023 financial year – a record high despite Qantas still running at about 70 per cent of its pre-COVID international capacity.

Qantas said a $200 million investment in additional staff would help maintain its improved operational performance throughout the new COVID-19 wave, and the busy holiday period.

The Group’s net debt is now expected to fall to an estimated $2.3 billion-$2.5 billion by December 31 this year, about $900 million better than previous estimates.

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About 20,000 non-executive employees are set to receive a $5000 bonus, and up to 1000 Qantas shares (currently valued at about $6000) subject to meeting key conditions.

The airline said capacity remained “constrained”, despite over a million sale fares being launched in October.

“The Group is adding capacity as quickly as possible in the second half of the year while maintaining operational reliability,” the release said.

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